Google has announced its commitment to train one million young Africans in digital skills in the next year. Google has partnered with Livity Africa to run two training programs: ‘Digify Bytes’ to give digital skills to young people looking to develop a digital career; and ‘Digify Pro’, a 3-month immersion program for digital specialists.

By training one million young Africans with digital skills in the next year, Google is hoping to grow the continent’s digital economy and change the nature of its media and advertising industries.

The new skills will allow people to “absorb this content in short bite-size chunks at their own pace, in their own time”. The program has already trained 11,000 people in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Google-nigeriaDigify Pro is an innovative training journey that intends to create the next generation of job-ready digital upstarts. Our trainees are put through their paces in an intensive three-month process in a real workplace. The training programme sharpens digital skills and vocational training and prepares candidates to be job-smart and work-ready. Currently running in Johannesburg and Cape Town,  the programme offers a wide-range of practical workshops on digital campaigns, social media and content creation, as well as training on Google Search, AdWords, YouTube and Analytics. Finally, we develop participants’ professional skills, preparing them for their ideal digital job, and helping to place graduates into full time jobs or internships upon programme completion. The three-month face-to-face training course called Digify Pro has been a great success too, and the first 200 graduates have all found employment.

“This three-month bootcamp is designed to give young black South African the digital skills required to be employed in an agency or corporate marketing department,” says Luke McKend, Country Director, South Africa. “We don’t guarantee employment but so far all 150 graduates have got a job. That’s a 100% success rate.”

The Digify program will run in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – where youth unemployment stands at 35%, 13% and 17% respectively, it says. Graduates are equipped with enough skills to get a job in digital marketing and have digital skills that they can use immediately. “The feedback I am getting from agency heads is that the Digify graduates are fantastic assets to their business, in some case even more so than the marketing graduates that they get,” says McKend.

The program can transform the digital media landscape, especially in South Africa. “Digify is the only program specifically designed to change the demographic shape of the South African advertising industry,” says McKend.

Google estimates that 500 million internet users will be online in Africa by 2020. Google plans to train 300,000 South Africans, 400,000 Nigerians and 200,000 Kenyans; as well as a further 100,000 from the rest of the region. These programs will be scaled to reach more people in the next 12 months. A group of 65 volunteer Googlers from around the world are helping the Livity team with content development, ‘training the trainers’ and, in some cases, delivering the training sessions.

Google also launched – an online-learning portal that will house a range of digital skills courses, available to anyone in Africa – free. The courses are designed to be as “light” as possible so they don’t eat up valuable data. There are nine training courses already available and Google aims to have 50 available by July, 2016.