AfrikInterns is an online platform that connects students and employers for internship programmes. The website is aimed at improving the employability of youths in Nigerian and by extension, in Africa. It also promotes the acquisition of vocational skills through training that empowers youths with skills to be self-employed, thereby reducing high rate of unemployment.
No fewer than 1.8 million Nigerian graduates enter the labour market every year. As reported on June 8 2015 by a national daily, “Only 0.88 percent gain full employment’’. This alarming dimension is due to the huge experience and skill deficit in graduates, as it is difficult to enter the formal sector without requisite experience.
This soaring unemployment rate motivated founders of AfrikInterns to develop a fit-for-purpose online website, aimed at addressing the huge skills deficit by offering vocational training and also connecting students in secondary and tertiary institutions to organizations for internship programs, where they acquire practical experience and skills required to be employable or entrepreneurial before entering the labour market.
In just 4 years, this project has through its vocational skill acquisition programs and online platform, www.afrikinterns.com, trained and connected over 14, 700 students to 204 organisations for internships. After graduation, those who choose to seek employment in the organisations where they interned are absorbed while others have followed entrepreneurial paths.
The importance of this initiative is that it addresses the social problems of unemployment and poverty, by empowering youths with technical/vocational skills and the experience required to be employable or to startup businesses. So rather than roam the streets in search of employment, they are now fully prepared for the market.
One of the challenges this initiative experiences is the significant amount of time it takes to develop a productive working relationship with community partners, such as employers/organisations, to employ and engage interns. To address this challenge, AfrikInterns uses skills acquired from YALILearns courses, such as ‘Inspiring Community Participation’, to get organisations involved as partners, and also by offering them online advertising incentives on AfrikInterns.com when they employ interns.
Since there are no financial benefits, attracting and motivating volunteers to facilitate training is another challenge. Resources from YALILearns and YALINetwork have empowered the organisation to create a volunteer experience that is meaningful and a positive environment for growth, such as training the volunteers and giving out ‘recognition of service’ awards.
Going further to address these challenges, AfrikInterns has resorted to the leadership skills of its founders enhanced through their participation at the 2015 ‘YALI TechCamp: Digital Strategies for Grassroots Organizing’ in Pretoria, South Africa to organise Mini TechCamps in tertiary institutions and create awareness on the importance of internships and vocational skills acquisition.