South African start-up ExploreAI Academy has partnered with international technology training provider ALX to roll out training programmes in data science and data analytics across the continent. The partnership involves training an initial 25,000 African students over the next 18 months.

ALX is a division of African Leadership International (ALI). The partnership with ExploreAI Academy is part of its plan to expand its international community of highly skilled professionals with qualifications that evolve with the digital economy’s demands. As developed economies face increasing skills shortages in the digital and tech sectors, players like ALX are increasingly looking to Africa as an emerging source of skilled young talent.

“Investing in African digital skills and innovation-driven learning is the best way to turn African potential into best-in-class excellence,” says ALI CEO and founder Fred Swaniker.

“To do so and at scale, we need to partner with proven training providers on the continent that share our vision and passion. ExploreAI Academy is just such a partner.”

Cape Town-based ExploreAI Academy is Africa’s largest data science training institution. In 2022, after just five years, it achieved a significant milestone when its total number of graduates passed the 3,000 mark. Over 90 per cent of these graduates – many of whom are from disadvantaged communities – are employed.

This prompted founder Shaun Dippnall to say, “We believe our model of teaching data science, data engineering, AI, and related skills is making a significant impact in addressing the dire shortage of these particular skills in South Africa and across the continent.”

The partnership with ALX is a massive leap forward for ExploreAI Academy.

“ALX is connected to a broad ecosystem of institutions with a collective mission to harness Africa’s abundant human capital by developing ethical and entrepreneurial young leaders from across the continent. We are proud to be part of that international partnership,” says Dippnall.

Coding. Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

The partnership with ALX has meant a swift and significant gearing up to meet the demands of the new student cohorts.

“We learned how to pivot rapidly in 2020 when COVID forced us to move in a matter of weeks from a purely classroom-based teaching model to online with input from acknowledged subject matter experts in their fields. That shift to online teaching opened the door to talented candidates from across the continent. The partnership with ALX is thus the next logical step for us. Of course, it’s massive in terms of the number of students, but we’re ready for the challenge,” explains Dippnall.

The shortage of data science skills across the world is now known to be a major problem in the digital age.  According to a recent report by Standard Bank, ‘Fuelled by digital expansion and the use of new-age technologies across all industries, the demand for data science skills has grown rapidly, (but) the supply of (these) skills … fails to match demand. … As enterprises expand their digital footprints, almost everyone has upped the ante in their digital transformation efforts and this means (there is) an even greater gap to be filled.’[1]

“The ExploreAI Academy experience has transformed the lives of numerous graduates, providing them with key skills and enabling them to accept high-earning jobs in a variety of industries. The partnership with ALX will expand our reach exponentially,” Dippnall.

The Explore AI Academy, whose parent company is now headquartered in London, has been one of South Africa’s most successful start-ups in the past decade, proving that the country has the skills and determination to take its place with the best the world has to offer.

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