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German business school supports African graduates’ transition to industry

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The ESMT Berlin and the African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) tuition-free joint initiative, the Industry Immersion Programme (IIP), designed to help mathematically-trained African graduates transition from education to industry, has kicked off for 58 students.

The programme in its fifth year, is supported by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development via the DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service.

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This year’s programme will have the students taught simultaneously from four locations namely South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, and Kenya. As of last year, teaching has moved to a blended format, with students following online seminars from their respective campuses accompanied by local work readiness and skills programmes.

Over two months, students attend courses on topics such as general management, data analytics, and entrepreneurial strategy, using a combination of asynchronous tutored learning periods on ESMT’s digital Hub combined with live video lectures and class discussions using the Engageli platform.

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Engageli is a social learning platform, which is being used for live sessions on the programme that promotes social, flexible and active learning. Students can work in small collaborative groups that support dynamic, frictionless interactions and can coexist within larger class settings, much like study groups in a well-designed active learning classroom. Engageli supports multiple built-in engagement drivers, including quizzes, polls, table groups, and content sharing. They can also track student activity both individually and as a group, providing instructors with actionable insights in real-time and after class ends to continually improve the experience.

The academic programme is then followed by an internship with industry partners in Africa, including German companies such as Siemens, Bosch and B. Braun, as well as local technology and consulting companies.

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Speaking on the initiative, Associate Dean for Degree Programmes and EdTech at ESMT Berlin, Nick Barniville, said: “With the Industry Immersion Programme, we are aiming to bridge the gap between academically-gifted quantitative graduates from across Africa who are looking to apply their skills in industry, but may otherwise lack the necessary experience to enter the business world. Our goal is to make an important contribution to sustainable industrial development and new job opportunities in Africa. We do this by training talent in Africa, for Africa.”

In the first years of the programme, employment rates of graduates in industry have been upwards of 80 per cent one year after programme completion. Great examples of successful graduates include Justice Agbadu from Nigeria, Seidu Tahiru from Ghana, and Hariet Kudakwashe Marima from Zimbabwe. Justice went on to work in Data Analytics for eHealth Africa, Seidu is a Pricing and Data Manager for Bosch, and Hariet is Human Capital and Strategic Development Manager for B. Braun.

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“It’s important to note that for many of our participants, the only option which was apparent to them before participating in our Industry Immersion Programme was a career in academia,” explained Barniville.

In the long-term, the strategy is to train local universities to develop and deliver the IIP, with existing programme partners training the trainers, thereby empowering African institutions to integrate similar employment readiness programmes for STEM graduates.

To this end, ESMT has partnered with Academics without Border (AwB), a Canadian organisation focused on train-the-trainer programmes.

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To start, a team from Strathmore University in Kenya will be accompanied by volunteers from AwB with the aim that the following year the programme can be run entirely independently by Strathmore University.

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