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Forward is a free online learning program offered by McKinsey to equip young talent across industries and roles with the practical skills needed to succeed in the future of work.

Forward is a free online learning program designed to help young professionals in the early years of their careers develop practical, must-have skills that are transferable across industries and roles.

Forward is free for eligible participants as part of McKinsey’s flagship social responsibility initiative. There are no fees to apply, register, or partake in any of the three levels, provided you are eligible.

Participants will use their own internet-connected device and internet access, as the program is delivered online. On average, participants should dedicate two hours per week to complete the learning requirements of each level.


Forward is a three-level learning journey. It begins with exploring foundational skills, then moves to applying those skills through reflection, case studies, and group activities, and finally embedding new behaviors through ongoing peer learning.

Participants who complete the Foundation and Advanced level requirements will receive a certificate confirming their completion of the Forward program.

Structure and timeline

You will learn through a variety of online and virtual formats including highly interactive digital courses, workshops, and a group assignment with real-time peer feedback.

  • Foundation level: 10 weeks, two hours per week

  • Advanced level: 12 weeks, two hours per week

  • Network level: Ongoing

Learning objectives

You will gain skills and tools to:

  • turn complex business challenges into opportunities using structured and creative thinking

  • communicate with impact to move your audience to action

  • apply agile ways of working and spot opportunities to use data and technology

  • be adaptable, and build resilience and emotional awareness to work successfully–both independently and in teams, especially in times of change

Eligibility criteria

To access Forward, you must meet the following criteria:

  • currently reside on the African continent (all countries)

  • have at least one and no more than five years of formal work experience

  • have completed post-secondary education (for example: diploma, associate degree, undergraduate degree)

  • have a good command of the English language as the program will be conducted in English

The Forward program is specifically designed for young professionals who have completed post-secondary education and have at least one year and at most five years of formal work experience. If you are still in school with no work experience, you will not be eligible to apply. If you are currently in between jobs but have the required work experience, you are eligible.

If you were previously enrolled in the program and were unable to complete the Foundation or Advanced level, you are welcome to reapply should you still meet the eligibility criteria. Note that you will be required to restart the program from the beginning of the Foundation level.

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