Ireland-based online education platform Alison, which specialises in workplace skills, has seen a staggering 87% increase year on year for enrolment – and for course completion – by learners from the African continent, data exclusively shared with The PIE News shows.
A majority of those enrolled are just starting their career, already undertaking university education or are unemployed – an indication that the majority of them want to begin their careers or advance their education.
“On average across the continent of Africa, we’ve seen an 87% increase year on year for all of our Alison key learner metrics. This includes web traffic to Alison, users both old and new, signups, enrolments, course completions and certificate purchases,” the document says.
The largest yearly increase across the continent however has been recorded in certificate purchases, which stands at 187%. The report notes that the purchases have been tripling year on year and further showed that the “learners see the value in Alison certification”, and “find it to have a positive impact on their daily lives”.
“All our courses are completely free to study. When learners have passed the assessment, they can opt to purchase evidence of their success in the form of a digital, parchment or framed Certificate or Diploma,” Fiona Rutherford, Publishing Editor at the Social Enterprise, told The PIE.
As many as 62% of enrolees also stated that their main goal at Alison was upskilling, with 25% looking to explore hobbies and interests, while 12% of them wanted to change their career field.
Students are most interested in career categories such as Business Management and Administration, at 14%, Information Technology at 12%, and Arts, Audio/Video Technology and Communications at 9%.
As a result, the survey found out that the largest cohort of learners – at 20% – are starting their careers, while 18% are currently unemployed.
“This indicates that Africa Alison learners value the platform as a key element which will help them to begin their careers and advance their education,” it observes.
Both male and female genders are more or less evenly split, with 48% of the students in 2018 for example being female, against the proportion of men which stood at 52%. The females turned the tables on men in 2021 to stand at 52% against men at 48%.
“We have been inspired by the people we’ve met and by hearing how our courses have helped them overcome barriers”
Alison does not insist that graduates buy a certificate and one can download a free pdf of their Learner record if they preferred, she added, however “purchasing a certificate enables us to provide more high quality course study options, particularly for the most marginalised for free around the world.”
During a recent tour of East Africa, Alison CEO Mike Feerick said: “We have been inspired by the people we’ve met and by hearing how our courses have helped them overcome barriers to learning. They’ve also given us lots of ideas for how we might develop Alison services further, to assist them further in their careers, and also assist those in their community to upskill and develop themselves through our free online services.”
The company, he noted, is recognised as the only ‘truly’ free global workplace skills and training platform, providing useful skills to people from some of the lowest incomes in the world such as most of Africa.
Founded in 2007, it has facilitated over 23 million learners worldwide, 7 million of them in Africa. It provides more than 3,000 certificate and diploma courses for education or skills development in everything from English to management, nursing, marketing and IT among others, as well as hobbies.