Google is bringing to Africa a machine-learning-powered tool, which prepares job-seekers for interviews, to improve their performance.
The Google interview warm-up tool, already popular in the US, enables job-seekers to undertake mock interview questions in various fields, including project management, data analytics, e-commerce, IT support and user experience design.
Details of the tool and its imminent launch on the continent were revealed yesterday when Google outlined the progress of its $1 billion (R18 billion) investment commitment to Africa, made last year by CEO Sundar Pichai.
Yesterday, during the Google for Africa event, the company provided details of its intent to establish a new Google Cloud region in SA, as well as developments at its first African product development centre in Nairobi and its support for start-ups through its $50 million Africa investment fund.
Speaking to journalists during a roundtable discussion, Ola Fadipe, senior director of people operations at Google, said the global internet company is passionate about nurturing talent and has been “practically thinking” about how it can help job-seekers.
“We are thinking about how we speak and appeal to the younger generation of talent. Of course, we are thinking about how we are supporting businesses. We are practically thinking about how we can help job-seekers in the tech space and even broader.”
For many applicants, Fadipe said, if they don’t have access to friends, family or mentors who are in the field in which they are seeking employment, interviews will be difficult, hence the need for the warm-up tool.
“I think we are acknowledging that interviewing and interviews can be really hard. That’s why we collaborated with job-seekers to launch this interview warm-up tool that lets you practise answers to questions that have been selected by industry experts.”
The company wants more African job-seekers use it, as it enhances their employability, she noted.
“I think what is really special about this tool is that it lets one practise answering questions but then uses machine learning that has been developed by Google to transcribe the answers.
“I think it is real, it’s tangible and it makes a very important difference to an individual. We need users to engage with it, to give us the feedback, then we continue to build and improve on it. I see this as game-changing when we think about access and opportunities.”
Cheerful Mother Africa
Meanwhile, James Manyika, Google senior vice-president for technology and society, punted emerging technologies as a catalytic link to Africa’s development in future.
Addressing journalists from his US base, Manyika said technology has the potential to assist the continent in “overcoming societal challenges, improve lives and create access to economic opportunities and, as a result, transform society for the better”.
He added: “While I don’t expect the next few years to be easy, I am very optimistic about Africa’s future and how technology will contribute to economic recovery now and going forward.
“We are already seeing some progress, as 19 of the 20 fastest-growing countries in the world are in Africa. Africa’s economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025, and more than half of Africa’s population will be under 25 by the year 2025.
“These facts create a real need for increased opportunities, and for people and families to earn a living. It also offers an incredible pool of talent and leadership for the future, not to mention the tremendous amount of entrepreneurial energy that is everywhere across Africa.
“As new technologies emerge, AI in particular, they present tremendous potential to tackle some of the societal challenges. We are already seeing impressive examples of this, through what some of the start-ups are doing, organisations across Africa are doing, and also through our many collaborations.”