The Long-Term Impact of Investing in the Middle East and Africa’s Young and Innovative WorkforceWith the rapid pace of technological progress, companies are struggling to find skilled employees and academic institutions are challenged to provide the necessary training to equip students to succeed in the job market. To survive and thrive, companies must focus on young talent, who will be the engine of technological and business transformation, and consider the worldwide talent pool. In Africa, the workforce is expected to reach 1.1 billion by 2034 (outpacing China and India combined); the region is expected to be the second-fastest growing economy by 2020 and there is $5.6 trillion of business opportunity expected by 2025 (Source: McKinsey Global Institute, 2016).The Dell EMC Egypt Center of Excellence (COE) has implemented a robust strategy to inspire, attract, empower and retain the region’s most promising talent:Real-world training through university partnershipsFostering innovation through technology competitionCreating a diverse workforce through a rotational development programSuch a strategy has led to the center’s growth to 900 energetic team members since 2009, with an average age of twenty-eight, 43 percent women, and 50percent of full-time members joining as college hires. The Egypt team’s journey is one that global companies can learn from as they evaluate their talent landscape.Real-World Training Through University PartnershipsDell EMC Summer Academy Closing CeremonyThrough the External Research and Academic Alliance Program, the Egypt COE partners with 52 academic institutions and reaches more than 5,000 students per year. We offer an “open” curriculum-based education to bridge the technology skills gap. In the past academic year, more than 750 students completed their Data Science and Analytics Certification. To complement these university courses, the Egypt COE also provides hands-on experience and soft skills training through its internship and Summer Academy programs.Fostering Innovation Through Technology Competition“Envision the Future” is the first technology-based regional competition for college students. Since the Egypt COE launched the competition in 2015, it has engaged 170 leading universities; enlisted 300+ projects from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt and more; and underscores women’s contribution to technological advancement—in 2016, 40 percent of the entries were submitted by women and the first and third place winners were both women-led teams. The 2017 competition concluded in September, with winning projects from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, which will be recognized at the GITEX 2017 consumer computer and electronics conference in Dubai.Envision the Future: 2016 WinnersInternally, the Egypt COE also sparks and rewards innovation, launching the “Innovation League” in 2016 (which draws from the best practices of Adobe’s Kickbox model) and provides a platform for employees to enhance their business units. The League has engaged 480 team members (more than 50 percent of the Egypt COE workforce) and led to incubation for a wide range of ideas, from process improvements to self-healing data centers.“The Innovation League has had a real impact—with 330 idea submissions and seven approved patents in its first year. By ‘gamifying’ innovation, we are able to drive deeper engagement and cross-functional collaboration. Since the League was established, we have seen a notable increase in team member excitement and a great sense of community with employees reaching out to help their colleagues succeed”.– Ahmed Osama, Sr. Program Manager, Innovation, Dell EMC Egypt COECreating a Diverse Workforce Through a Rotational Development ProgramStudents at Kenya’s Strathmore University who completed VMWare and Academic Associate certificationsTo tap into Africa’s business potential, the Egypt COE launched an “Africanization” program in 2015 to develop relationships with the region’s universities and build out a trained workforce. This program provides technical courses to students in African countries and then invites high potential recent graduates to participate in a two-year bootcamp program at the Egypt COE, where they gain international exposure and work with cross-functional teams. Following the program, participants are anticipated to return to their home countries and apply their training to support development and execution of large IT projects for Dell EMC customers.“Members of the Dell EMC Egypt COE visited my university in Morocco. I was so excited to attend to the presentation and to know about what they do. Today, I am part of this amazing company and learning new things every single day. I have developed technically and professionally since joining Dell EMC”.– Imane Rehioui, Support & Deploy Services, Dell EMC Egypt COEFinal ThoughtsThe talent that we develop and hire through the Egypt Center of Excellence is the driving force behind our outstanding innovation, automation and process improvement achievements. This millennial workforce has improved the Center’s culture with its optimism, strong communication and collaboration skills and relentless drive to make an impact by challenging the status quo.I truly believe the future is promising. However, we must make a commitment to nurture our young, global talent to prepare and empower the next generation of IT leaders. I welcome your perspectives on how you are investing in young talent – please leave a comment below.