YOUTH EMPLOYABILITY -  17 November 2023

Learnio: Embarking on the journey to digital employment

Knowing how to use a computer to find information and communicate is one thing – building a digital services career is the next level. Digital skills training provided by Learnio Social Enterprise in partnership with SOS Children’s Villages is becoming a cornerstone of the Digital Villages programme. The training, started in Benin, is now being implemented in Zimbabwe, Mali, and Niger, supporting young people on their way to employment.  

"Our main objective is the socio-professional integration of young people, it is to make them truly employable", says Ali Idrissa, national coordinator for alternative care at SOS Children's Villages in Niger. 20 participants of alternative care and family strengthening programmes started the training there this September, and more are about to start next year.

The poor access of young people to quality digital training motivated SOS Children's Villages in Mali to launch the Learnio programme. "The only training centres available here are private cyber cafés", says Pascal Touré, programme development manager. "Not only are these cafés unsuitable for learning, but also too expensive." The Learnio programme in Mali is aiming to reach 60 young people, including 30 girls.

Learnio's aim is twofold: it equips students with the skills they need to succeed in digital marketing, web development, and graphic design, while contributing to the country’s digital economy growth. 

Training format  

The courses in all countries are delivered in a hybrid format - online sessions with on-premise mentoring support. The students are given access to mentoring and the opportunity to complete practical projects to apply their skills. The mentors are freelancing experts who serve as both facilitators and role models, enriching the learning journey.

"Learnio" sparked in Benin  

The initial spark for Learnio came from SOS Children's Villages in Benin, where the project was launched in 2021. It started in the SOS Children’s Village in Abomey-Calavi and has been expanded to further locations in 2023. By now, more than 200 young people have been trained.

Zimbabwe: Partnering with Learnio  

Only 13 % of Zimbabwe's workforce possess essential digital skills, according to the World Economic Forum's 2022 Digital Marketing Skills Gap Report. It projects that the demand for digital marketing skills in the contry will grow by 20% by 2025. Therfore, SOS Children's Villages in Zimbabwe seized the opportunity to partner with Learnio and offer courses in graphic design and digital marketing to young people in the SOS Children’s Villages in Bindura and Bulawayo. By August 2023, 73 students successfully graduated.

The impact of the training programmes is demonstrated by the remarkable achievements of thirteen participants from Zimbabwe. Specializing in digital marketing, they successfully provide their services to enterprises in Bulawayo, and have even extended their reach to a South African company.

What is more, the training allowed SOS Children's Villages in Zimbabwe to upgrade their ICT infrastructure, including laptops, solar power backup installations, microphones, webcams, and furniture. 

 Pascal Touré says: "Young people showed genuine interest in our training. We have received several hundred applications from girls and boys. 60 participants were selected for the first cohort".

Lessons learned 

While Niger and Mali are still at the beginning of trainings, programme teams in Benin and Zimbabwe can already share their experiences and learnings. In Benin, for example, 30 computers serve as the backbone of the training efforts in Abomey-Calavi and Dassa-Zoumé. In Zimbabwe, the impact of the programme is attributed to the unwavering commitment to quality course delivery and the invaluable access to mentors.  

Equipped with laptops, students can hone their skills and build their freelancer portfolios. Adequate tools and environments empower them to harness their talents and aspirations, ultimately fostering a more productive and progressive learning journey. SOS Children's Villages in Benin covers the travel expenses of participants so they can attend classes. The hybrid learning is a solution for thouse having to fulfil household tasks.

If you are interested in finding out more about the partnership with Learnio, please contact

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