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Jobtech Alliance Launch: Tapping into the Collective Wisdom

Oct 27, 2021 | Jobtech Alliance Memo

Author: Jennifer Otieno

Yesterday we invited 50+ leaders in jobtech in sub-saharan Africa to come together to envision and co-create the next phase of the Jobtech Alliance. We connected with new and familiar faces through brief networking interactions and introduced the community to the thinking behind the Jobtech Alliance. We also discussed our plans to increase learning and transparency in the space and to co-develop and lead strategic interventions to strengthen the ecosystem.

As a part of our inaugural gathering, we had several of our working group members share their learnings on the role that technology can play in enabling Africans to access and improve work that enhances their quality of life. Sayo Folawiyo, CEO of Kandua, Molade Adeniyi, CEO of WAVE (West African Vocational Education), Paul Breloff, CEO at Shortlist Professionals, and Corrinne Ngurukie, Head of Partnerships at Generation Kenya, lead the discussions by responding to the prompt “I used to think… and now I think…” to share their evolved thinking on what is true about jobtech and the promise it holds for our local communities. 

Blending Tech and Touch for Greatest Impact

A consistent theme that emerged from the discussions was the idea of the need to blend online and offline approaches, but the challenge in finding the right balance. Paul shared that he initially thought that Shortlist could “solve” recruiting through tech and AI alone, but eventually came around to the view that the real secret was finding the balance and letting tech and people each do what they do best. Corrinne came to this realization from the opposite perspective. Where she originally believed that many technical and vocational skills could only be developed through hands-on, in-person learning experiences, Covid-19’s school closures pushed her and her colleagues to realize that there’s a real role for virtual learning — even for traditionally offline professions. 

Building great user-centered tech products is a journey

Humans are complex and their context and needs are not static. One key takeaway from the discussions was that when utilising tech, it is important to realise that not one size fits all. Building tech with humans in mind is always the way to go and requires a deep understanding of one’s user (something that global inspiration, Apna, does really well!). Rob Burnet of Shujaaz Inc shared his reflection that he used to think tech was “easy” but now realizes that making a good tech product is a long-term journey that never really ends.

The type of tech to consider is also important. Molade shared that Covid-19 shaped how she thinks about integrating tech into the skilling experience. Through WAVE’s experiments with blended learning approaches, she learnt that designing the utilisation of tech in upskilling should be done with the end user in mind. She now thinks it is critical to co-create with the end users to ensure that the tech is fit for purpose and sometimes, low tech is better than no tech.

The importance of storytelling

Sayo shared his learnings on the power of storytelling and its importance for advocacy among users and supporters. He shared that he used to think that building a good product was all you needed to do, and the rest would happen naturally from there. But through his work with Kandua’s pros, community and partners, he has now realised that good storytelling is critical for ownership of one’s narrative and changing mindsets and behaviours. 

We are so grateful to the community for coming together and sharing these useful insights. We’re excited to continue the conversation and build the knowledge base that can empower jobtech practitioners and enablers. Interested in sharing your story or learnings? Contact us to get involved!


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