Ola Fadipe, Senior Director of People at Google.

Google is bringing a machine-learning-based tool to Africa that prepares job seekers for interviews to improve their performance.

Already popular in the US, Google’s interview warm-up tool allows job seekers to complete mock interviews in a variety of 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 as Google outlined the progress of its $1bn (R18bn) investment commitment to Africa made last year by CEO Sundar Pichai.

Yesterday, during the Google for Africa event, the company presented details of its intention to create a new Google Cloud region in South Africa, as well as the development of its first African product development center in Nairobi and the support of startups through a $50 million African investment fund.

Speaking to reporters during a roundtable, Ola Fadipe, senior director of people at Google, said the global internet company was passionate about nurturing talent and was “thinking practically” about how it could help job seekers.

“We are thinking about how to speak and reach out to the younger generation of talent. Of course, we think about how we support the business. We’re thinking practically about how we can help job seekers in the tech space and beyond.”

For many applicants, Fadipe said, if they don’t have access to friends, family or mentors who work in the field they’re applying for, the interview will be difficult, so a warm-up tool is needed.

“I think we recognize that interviewing and interviewing can be very difficult. That’s why we’ve partnered with job seekers to launch this warm-up tool, which lets you practice answering questions chosen by industry experts.”

The company wants more African job seekers to use it as it increases their employability, she said.

“I think what’s really special about this tool is that it allows you to practice answering the questions, but then uses machine learning developed by Google to transcribe the answers.

“I think it’s real, it’s tangible, and it’s very important to a person. We need users to interact with it to give us feedback, then we keep building and improving it. I think it’s a game-changer when we think about access and opportunity.”

Meanwhile, James Manika, Google’s senior vice president of technology and society, described emerging technologies as a catalytic link to Africa’s future development.

Speaking to reporters from his US base, Manyika said technology could help the continent “overcome societal challenges, improve lives and create access to economic opportunities and, as a result, change society for the better.”

He added: “While I do not expect the next few years to be easy, I am very optimistic about the future of Africa and how technology will drive economic recovery now and in the future.

“We are already seeing some progress, with 19 of the world’s 20 fastest growing countries in Africa. Africa’s economy could grow to $180 billion by 2025, and by 2025, more than half of Africa’s population will be under the age of 25.

“These facts create a real need for greater opportunities and for individuals and families to earn a living. It also offers an incredible pool of talent and leadership for the future, not to mention the vast amount of entrepreneurial energy that is everywhere across Africa.

“As new technologies emerge, in particular artificial intelligence, they represent a huge potential to solve some social problems. We are already seeing impressive examples of this through what some startups are doing, organizations across Africa, and through our many collaborations.”

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