Bridging The Opportunity Gap: What era92 Is Doing To Nurture Unskilled Slum Talents
Perhaps the most dreaded word to young people job hunting is “work experience”.
Educated or not, young people in general looking for jobs often find themselves in the catch 22 position. They can’t get a job without experience, and they can’t get experience without a job.
As much as many companies offer internship training today, many of them are not willing to hire, train and build a team from scratch.
Young people are underlooked because they lack the experience even though they have knowledge.
But imagine a young continent like Africa.
Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15–35, 65% of Africa’s population is under the age of 35 with one-third unemployed and lost hope from ever finding jobs, another third vulnerably employed, and only one in six have wage employment.
Right now, there is a significant gap between the number of young people seeking work and the limited employment opportunities available to them.
So what happens when everyone only wants to take a polished skillset?
It leaves many youth stranded and stuck in low wage jobs or worse still, unemployed and resorting to petty theft & robbery to survive.
I come from that same background but it wasn’t until someone gifted me a computer to learn design that I became who I am today.
Now, I lead a team of 25 young people between the ages of 18 to 28 at era92 — a design agency pooling profits to train young people from slums in ARTS, DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY all year round. Through the Elevate Academy, young people are trained in Graphics Design, Web Design & Software Development & Films.
Maeghan, our Lead Developer at era92 was the first person to prove to me that talent is equally distributed but opportunity is not. Just like me, she too was born and raised in Kosovo, one of the biggest slums in Uganda. She came to me desperate for a job but at the time, I hadn’t started the company.
After just 6 months of the apprenticeship, Maeghan could design a website all by herself. She has gone on to improve her design skills over the years and occasionally stands in as a Web Design tutor at the Elevate Academy.
Today, she leads a team of 4 female developers. Since then, my perspective of life changed. I no longer viewed training raw talent from scratch as a burden or hinderance to growing my company. One small choice could potentially impact millions & catalyze positive change.
As an employer that recruits while training , here’s a couple things I’ve learned over the years.
- It’s a cheaper & effective way to tap into talent
This doesn’t mean “under-paid”. It means that if you’re tapping from the academy like me for example, you’re not spending time and money on ads and career platforms to attract an employee.
There’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with onboarding employees based on their CVs.
With the Elevate Academy, I’ve found that it takes the pressure off recruiting because I have seen this young person grow their skills, I know their character, I know if they are serial late comers or if they are super active.
So if I onboard them, I know exactly what I’m getting and how to grow their intelligence.
2. Solid team= solid results
Many companies at the survival stage have a limited number of employees that are overworked than they care to admit.
So if you find yourself in a difficult situation where you have limited resources to hire experienced employees, what do you do?
What I have learned to do to keep up with the increasing client demands in the fast-paced creative industry is to revolutionize our solutions with dedicated teams. Designers in the creative industry are the most stressed with constant changes from clients yet it is the most in-demand service.
So, I have had to build the design team with experienced leads and mix it up with talents from the academy. Just like what the Premier League Football Clubs do. That way, they quickly learn how to from their superiors and take on the extra work & ultimately help increase revenue for the company.
3. Hire passion, not paperwork
Let me give you an example of Emma, one of our film interns. Halfway through his apprenticeship at the academy, he started asking me for a job to shoot videos for a long time but I couldn’t take him on because we were financially constrained. Eventually, I gave in to a test session. He didn’t turn out to be as good as I needed but he persisted still. I wasn’t patient enough to train someone who took 2 days to edit a 2 minute video without music and colour grading.
But, eventually, I took him on and after just two months, he’d grown more confident and his speed had terrifically improved. As long as they have that drive and passion, you’ll still be able to build your business.
4. The younger they are, the more willing they are to learn
It’s more than a pay cheque for them. They are more eager to work towards developing new skills, which is why they are more likely to be the ones in the team who strive to do their best.
They easily blend into your company’s culture and are more open to know every part of your business to gauge where exactly they can add value to you. It’s easier to mould them into the people you need to take your business forward.
Millions of youth continue to find challenges in finding formal employment and a pathway out of poverty because there are very few people willing to take a chance on them. Take a chance on young talent today. If they are talented, they’ll pick up the skill under good guidance.
Written by Trinity Emmanuel
Trinity is a social entrepreneur from Kampala, Uganda with a passion for upskilling the next generation of digital talent in preparation for jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in Africa. He leads era92- a youth creative social enterprise that pioneers solutions to end youth unemployment through DESIGN, ARTS & TECHNOLOGY. As an entrepreneur, he wants to see sustainable wages for up-and-coming African creatives and believes the best ideas come from win-win collaborations.
Visit https://era92.com/ to learn more about his work.
As a multi-awarded social enterprise, our aim, at ila, is to champion a purpose-driven and socially aware workforce. Our innovative tailored programs and world-class advisory team have extensive experience working with HR professionals, leadership teams and employees to champion a diverse and gender equal culture in the workplace.
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