In response to the youth unemployment epidemic on the African continent, internship facilitator Africa Internship Academy (AIA) will be launching its Young Energy and Power Professionals (YEPP) platform at the African Utility Week (AUW), which takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from May 16 to 18.
“Internship opportunities are an amazing solution to help maximise human capital development on the continent,” says AIA cofounder Daniel Antwi. He notes that several employers have argued that skills constraints have been a major contributing factor to youth unemployment. “Many young graduates find it very difficult to move out and become job makers in the market. Therefore, AIA aims to facilitate a successful transition from academia to industry by ensuring that the skills of youth are honed early enough to match labour market demands.”
The AIA has begun its monthly gatherings in Ghana and is looking to roll out more offices in many African cities by the end of June. “So far, all our fellows have secured amazing internship opportunities from great organisations in Africa,” Antwi states. She adds: “Ecobank Ghana requested to have all fellows in Ghana intern with them, if possible.”
He notes that the AIA, in partnership with the AUW organiser, Spintelligent, will ensure that YEPP, “will be a network of ambitious graduates who wish to contribute to solving Africa’s power and energy issues.”
The YEPP will ideally bring together graduates who want to learn from one another, access thought leadership, conduct research to broaden their understanding of power and energy issues, raise funding for future solutions and further their career ambitions. “There is a lot of room for young people in the utility sector, as long as they get the right skills to navigate it,” Antwi says.
He firmly believes that internships are a win-win for all involved, commenting that, “when HR is able to recognise potential early enough and eventually bring them on board, the recruitment process is easier and the intern definitely feels valuable”. Antwi notes that, in the long term, this benefits employers, as staff who are former interns at a company, “are most likely to stay on with that employer, [thereby] building the organisation’s reputation as an ‘employer of choice’”.
Antwi concludes by quoting Internships.com chief marketing officer Stuart Lander: “You have a 7 in 10 chance of being hired by the company you interned with” – which speaks to the AIA’s vision of eliminating youth unemployment.