Utiva is providing the solution to the record graduate unfit for the business world in most African countries through their unique program that adequately equips students to be excellent and stand out in the business place. Utiva is an education enterprise that is using blended learning approach to bridge skill gap of teeming youths, especially undergraduates in Africa.
Clinton Chibueze is the Program Associate at Utiva based in Lagos, Nigeria. In this interview, he shares the major problems confronting the corporate world lacking skilled labor as only 9% of graduates are really prepared for the job market.
In explaining the nature of his work at Utiva, Clinton Chibueze said, “I work with students in about 20 universities, helping them get value for our engagements, training and internship program. I provide leadership to about 40 campus leads (2 per school), communicating the vision and the mission of Utiva to them, helping the organization scale its presence in all the schools and supporting our social impact mission.” He as well provides back-end support to the training program going on in the schools.
If you are an undergraduate or a graduate who wants to be talented and a highly skilled labour to your employers, enjoy this interview with Clinton Chibueze who recently graduated with Summa Cum Laude and join Utiva.
What is Utiva and what challenges in the market has necessitated its development?
Utiva is a system of learning which combines both traditional classroom approach with an online learning experience to deliver value to the students and to the market. This system of learning prepares students for work whether as entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs in the private and public sectors as well as with non-governmental organisations by refining and improving their work skills. In other words, Utiva is a finishing school.
The song of “University graduates are unemployable” is a major challenge in the market. What this phrase actually means is that most graduates lack the necessary skills for work in the 21st century. Think about this for a moment. Most undergrads spend almost 4 years studying plant and some rocks. That is fine, honestly. But the question is this: who is ready to absorb them into jobs afterwards? Most people become stranded and left out. Our job is to communicate constantly with the job market, understand the dynamics of this market, research into the skills global employers are recruiting for, come back to train college students in those schools and help these companies find our talents.
The problem is that if Africa refuses to equip its labor for productivity and other companies improve theirs, we will continue to have a nation of cheap labor.
How in practical terms are you closing the skills gap in the market?
Our model integrates online with traditional face-to-face class activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner to train undergrads for the future of work and business. Our one and half year programme is divided into three phases. At the beginning of the journey, the students are enrolled into a 6-day training programme (105 hours). This engagement with our faculty allows the students to focus on three broad areas: Project Management, Corporate Leadership and Lean Entrepreneurship. After this, competence and knowledge is tested against a 200-question examination and then we move each student into an intense 52 weeks Business Case Review program.
In addition, during this program, learning is coordinated through on-the-job program which we call the ‘Uternship’. Some of our students are paired with fast rising companies, some get into volunteering experiences, some even get to work directly with entrepreneurs and a few work directly with Utiva.
Why do you use Business Cases?
One of the reasons we use business cases as a good and more productive approach to learning is that many students are more inductive than deductive reasoners, which means that they learn better from examples than from logical development starting with basic principles. The use of case studies can therefore be a very effective classroom technique.
Case studies are long being used in business schools, law schools, medical schools and the social sciences, but they can be used in any discipline when instructors want students to explore how what they have learned applies to real world situations. Utiva cases come in many formats, from a simple “What would you do in this situation?” question to a detailed description of a situation with accompanying data to analyze. Whether to use a simple scenario-type case or a complex detailed one depends on your course objectives.
What are some of your success stories?
We currently work with an average of 500 students per school and have a presence in 20, that is about 10,000 schools with some variances. We have a 75-80% success rate at pairing our students to internship programs and ensuring they’re hired.
Since the days of our early setup, about 17% of our students have started their own businesses.
We are currently improving our Utiva500companies project which is structured to help us on-board the leading 500 companies in Sub-Saharan Africa into our programme for skilled labor.
Who qualifies to be trained at Utiva?
Utivans are learners, constant learners! Young people who are very meticulous. Hence, anyone who is open to learning. As long as you are an undergrad or a recent graduate, we are out to work with you.
What is the vision for this initiative to help improve the quality of graduates into the job market?
Utiva’s vision is to produce individuals who are capable of transforming African businesses and competing with global leading businesses. It’s that simple. We are building global brands by building Human Capital.
What does the support by major institutions like the NYU, the Atlas Corps and others mean for your operations at Utiva?
We are growing and are still learning. We always want to improve on standard and quality so we can train students who would be able to identify and tackle current issues. Many of our partners are committed to helping us build a strong learning framework and also revamp our pedagogy. For instance, the country director was trained in the United States for a year under the tutorship of Deloitte consulting and this is courtesy of one of our supporters, Atlas Corps..
In clear terms, how will a Utivan differ from the regular graduate?
Walk into an interview room, you’d see the difference. A Utivan is all-rounded and well grounded. An average Utivan has developed the Utiva 8 skill for the job market!
Tell us the caliber of your Utivan trainers.
Our trainers are highly experienced professionals in their areas of specialization. These trainers are accomplished practitioners, people who have carved a niche for themselves in the market and are well aware of the remote and immediate demands of the market. For example, Eyitayo Ogunmola, the Country Director for Utiva is an expert in Project Management, Emeka Ossai is a specialist in Corporate Leadership and currently the Chief Community Builder at Campus Labs, Tomilola Adejana, a Financial Technologist and Business Strategist and others alike.
What significant challenge exists as you implement this unique initiative?
Scale. There is more to do. There are more schools to cover. More people and more. Especially in some disconnected communities in the country.
How soon does your oufit intend to roll out Utiva to other African countries?
We have tested our programme in 2 other African countries. We are building a scalable model which can be tested anywhere. We are the future of human capital development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Read more about Clinton Chibueze
Clinton Chibueze, Program Associate at Utiva and an emerging Corporate Leader in Global Education is passionate about functional education for African youths and helping young people in Sub-Saharan Africa transition from school to work. His biggest aspiration is to work in the space of policy development and educational program implementation.
Clinton Chibueze has gathered experience in Leadership and Management as well as a demonstrated history in writing, proofreading, editing and teaching. He holds a certificate in Project Management and an alumnus of Common Purpose in 2017, a global institute which trains youth for leadership. His is a Classics graduate from the University of Ibadan who just graduated with a Summa Cum Laude.
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