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Tribune Online
Iniobong Udoh: Arming Nigerians with digital skills to combat unemployment

What’s your start-up, Tech Skills Hack all about?

Tech Skills Hack is a social enterprise dedicated to training Nigerians with digital skills, in order to curb unemployment, encourage more women into joining the tech ecosystem and helping indigenous SMEs scale and also gain accessibility through digital skills and through the use of digital tools.

I am a Google certified Android developer, a certified User Experience(UX) expert, a digital skills advocate and a member of Women in Tech and I run Tech Skills Hack online community, one of the largest tech communities in Africa, a community where 2000+ users get to access free digital skills resources and training.


What motivated you to start Tech Skills Hack?

There are jobs in Nigeria, but so many Nigerians are still unemployed because they don’t have the required skills that employers are searching for in their prospective employees and so many employers are outsourcing their jobs to foreigners with in-demand skills, because there is a shortage of skillful human resources

The 4th industrial revolution is upon us. Daily, jobs are being automated, leaving many people unemployed and in Nigeria, the statistics is alarming.It is estimated that 18million people are unemployed in Nigeria, but so many are yet to realise this.So, as one who has  knowledge of this and one who was unemployed because I didn’t have the right digital skill(s) that employers were searching for until I got myself equipped with in-demand digital skills, my motivation for launching TSH was to help Nigerians gain employability just like I did through in-demand digital skills acquisition


What are the basic skills you train people on?

Basic/foundational skills like Windows Suite, social media usage, web/mobile development, website design, digital marketing, graphic design.


How many people have you trained so far?

Tech Skills Hack operates as an offline and online training platform and we have 2000+ users who use our online learning platform and since our inception, we have trained individuals and also partnered with iSpace Hub, Accra, The British Council to train more than 500 people on digital skills for free.


How did you start Tech Skills Hack?

Tech Skills Hack was birthed as a Facebook group and we have grown to become a registered organisation that has partnered with great organisations to help curb unemployment in Nigeria.


What are your expansion plans?

At the moment, Tech Skills Hack run as an NGO, so our expansion plan is to get a well-equipped training facility where Nigerians can get trained for free and develop a learning app that can work offline, one where we get to partner with renowned MOOCs (international and indigenous) to get in-demand digital skills resources so that Nigerians can learn at their own pace and from anywhere for free.

We would partner with indigenous digital skills trainers who are passionate about curbing unemployment.

To start a train the trainer project where we get to train indigenous trainers who would work with us to train others.


 What’s the current number of your employees?

There are 3 amazing full-time workers who make what we do at Tech skills Hack one worth talking about and we also have a growing list of volunteers who have helped our goal of reaching more Nigerians a reality.

EkikereobongEkere is the CTO, he’s the in-house developer and the head trainer of our coding classes.

Anthony Eyo is the COO, he is in charge of the operations in Tech Skills Hack and he oversees our digital skills and analytics training

People believe anything Tech related is meant for the male gender, how do you feel being a female tech enthusiast?

It is really an experience, especially as one who writes codes too, people get to believe that you should look and act in a certain way.So, if it doesn’t come in a shade or hue that they have already imagined, you have a lot of convincing to do for you to be taken seriously.Some clients tend to charge the services of women in tech less than they do that of men but I have accepted the fact that some people are yet to get the fact that the tech ecosystem isn’t discriminatory but one that all gender can thrive in, so all I do is talk to them about how amazing tech ecosystem is, especially in and why we need more ladies to join us, so that we can create a balance and proffer amazing solutions.


Have you won any grant or award so far?

No, we haven’t gotten any grant, because we didn’t apply for any, most of our projects are self-funded, but we are hopeful of attracting grants this year because of the success stories, accountability, and progress we have made in such a short span.

Recently, Tech Skills Hack applied for Techpoint Award, under the category “Most Impactful Independent Tech Community”. This award is dedicated to celebrating the Nigerian Tech ecosystem and because of the amazing testimonials that we have received from members of Tech Skills HackCommunity, we thought it wise to apply for this nomination and we would appreciate if you can also nominate us to make us stand the chance of winning this.


What’s are the problems you have faced since you started?

Running a digital skills training project that is free could be so challenging, especially in a country where 69 per cent of her citizens live below the poverty line.So many people can’t afford to get available digital skills training, so training these people for free is really hard, because we need funds to help them learn conveniently or access laptops or smartphones for training, and being that we are self-funded, we can’t get to reach more people.

The epileptic nature of electricity is another challenge because we need to get fuel for our training.

The high cost of internet / poor internet: Tech skills hack also runs various online training platforms, so accessing our training contents is always a challenge for some of our trainers who can’t afford internet access and some of our students always find it hard to access our online training because of poor internet too.So, this is one big challenge for us.

Accessing training hubs and gadgets: Our mission is to equip every Nigerian with in-demand digital skills, so this makes our training not restricted to a particular place. Having access to hubs to use for our free training is always a challenge, being that we don’t have the funds to rent training centres everywhere we go.


 How do you think these problems could be solved?

Financial supports from individuals, private organisations and the government can help us reach a large number of Nigerians, especially those who can’t afford to pay for digital skills training or buy digital gadgets.

A good supply of electricity would help more people learn without stress because they wouldn’t have to spend on buying fuel or be distracted by the noise of generators while learning.

Good and affordable internet is very vital for digital skills training because most of this training is done online and the resources are also gotten online.

Partnership: Collaborating with other trainers or training organisations is one that would make our burden light because the expenses of training would be shared.

Provision of training hubs and gadgets: Accessibility to training hubs and training gadgets would help us train more people without stress.So, if we can find organisations who would love to support us with this, we would so happy.


What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs in the technology industry?

Being an entrepreneur in Nigeria isn’t a walk in the park.There are days you feel like throwing in the towel and walking out of that vision that you have invested so much in, but keep hope alive, be consistent.This is a vital prerequisite I admonish every entrepreneur to have.It stands you out.So, even when that vision isn’t spinning in enough money, as expected, just keep proffering that solution, a big break would come if you don’t give up.

And please let us support each other to greatness.We need each other to grow a beautiful and enviable tech ecosystem that would make Nigeria great again.

Iniobong Udoh: Arming Nigerians with digital skills to combat unemployment
Tribune Online

source https://tribuneonlineng.com/iniobong-udoh-arming-nigerians-with-digital-skills-to-combat-unemployment/

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