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Podcast Episode

73: Upskilling African engineers for Industry 4.0 – Roti Balogun

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March 1, 2021
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1hr 8min
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73: Upskilling African engineers for Industry 4.0 – Roti Balogun
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Show Notes

Our first Learning Uncut story from Africa

One of my goals for Learning Uncut in 2021 is to bring you a story from every continent.  Today is our first story from Africa.  My guest is Roti Balogun, a Nigerian currently based in upstate New York working for General Electric.  He speaks with me about an initiative he kicked off in 2016 when he was the Chief Learning Officer for GE in Africa.  Inspired by a conversation he had at a World Economic Forum conference about what a partnership between industry and academia could look like, he looked for a way to create a partnership to help both GE and Africa to build the digital skills of engineers to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution.  The program is called the African Industrial Internet Program (AIIP).  This was both well-aligned with GE’s strategy, their social responsibility and government policy.

More partnerships are being created between organisations and academia to help address market skills shortages and strengthen talent pipelines. The collaboration between GE and the African Leadership University (ALU) that Roti describes provides insight for anyone interested in building such partnerships.  It’s also refreshing to hear an example of a progressive university who are adapting their offerings and approaches to stay abreast of change.

Episode Highlights

  • GE’s strategy of being an industrial digital leader covering the gamut from ‘GE for GE’ to ‘GE for customers’ and ‘GE for society.’  How the strategy has evolved over the past three years to rise to the challenge of building a world that works.
  • The opportunity for emerging economies to leapfrog capital intensive industries to capitalise on the industrial internet and increase the opportunity for digital transformation.  The need for engineers with digital capability to achieve this goal.
  • Making the business case for the AIIP as a program to address this need – creating socioeconomic impact that is also good for GE.  Leveraging the local regulatory environment.
  • Addressing inclusivity amidst a diverse pool of candidates faced with a range of cultural, readiness, logistics, technology barriers to address.  Strategies included bridging programs and scholarships.
  • The scope of the immersive 12-month program, including technical skills, application development, influencing, innovation and entrepreneurship.  The use of field visits and a capstone project supported by GE Subject Matter Experts.
  • Providing post-program support for participants to ‘remodel’ their careers using an alumni and online forum.
  • The relationship between GE and ALU being ‘a marriage of true value.’  What each party contributed.  Finding an innovative academic partner whose views on continuous learning aligned with GE
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Resources

73 Transcript
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Why every company should offer digital skills training, article by Roti Balogun
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Africa Industrial Internet Program
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Africa Industrial Internet Program teaser video
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Overview of capstone projects undertaken by AIIP participants
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3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry, World Economic Forum
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Industry 4.0 Is Africa ready for digital transformation? Deloitte report
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Debunking common myths and stereotypes about Africa, Aperian Global
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Adeola Fayehun TED Talk – Africa is a sleeping giant – I’m trying to wake it up.
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Michelle Ockers
Your host

Michelle Ockers

An award-winning speaker, Michelle brings decades of learning and development experience as she interviews business leaders and learning professionals to uncover interesting stories, authentic conversations, and new insights.
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