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By 14 March 2019 | Categories: news

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While some of the news emerging about the South African economy can be grim, it seems there are some silver linings. For example, this week Vodacom announced that  367 unemployed young people will be graduating with certified diplomas in Information Technology Technical Support from the Vodacom Youth Academy during the months of March and April this year.

We hear it time and again – unemployment is a problem, and in the ICT sector, lack of skills is a challenge. Apparently Vodacom has taken aim at addressing both challenges with the Vodacom Foundation’s Youth Academy.

Begun in 2012 with the purpose of developing ICT skills in the youth of the country who would otherwise not have the opportunity to do so. Accordong to the company, the programme’s objective is to train unemployed youth, for free, in ICT skills and thereafter further develop them into ICT entrepreneurs able to assist with the installation of IT equipment and provide instruction in high-end computer skills to visitors of Vodacom’s Teacher Training centres and connected schools. The 367 youth who will be graduating this year bring the number of graduates from this programme to 1 333.

Partnerships are pivotal

Speaking at the Gauteng graduation in Kempton Park this week, where 74 unemployed youth in the presence of their family and friends were conferred with diplomas in IT Technical Support, Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs for Vodacom Group commented: “Corporates such as Vodacom do not exist in a vacuum. We exist in societies with high levels of inequality and abject poverty and therefore it is incumbent upon us to partner the public sector and non-government organisation and come up with innovative solutions to assist government to deal with some of the socio-economic problems, plaguing our society.”

“As a purpose-led organisation that seeks to transform society through the use of ICT, this initiative forms part of the organisation’s commitment to help contribute towards the creation of skills development and job creation opportunities by exposing the youth, who would not ordinarily have had access to such skills, with training in order to help close the skills gap within the country’s ICT sector. We are well aware that the training is not a silver bullet for the unemployment challenge, but it provides youth with a solid foundation upon which to build both their academic future and help increase their chances of getting employment because they have skills that required by the digital economy and knowledge society,” he continued.

Trial by fire

Following 24 demanding months of theory, practicals and work-based placement training in A+ (entry-level computer service professional certification), N+ (mid-level certification for network technicians) and 3G connectivity, these graduates have now been equipped with the relevant skills greatly needed within the ICT industry.

The graduates participated in the Youth Academy’s established programme under one of four categories including end-user computing (NQF level 3), cell phone and device repair management (NQF level 3), IT Technical Support (NQF level 4) and networking support (NQF level 5) where some of their duties consisted of providing IT technical and data capturing support to schools and municipalities in their area.

Additionally, for the first time since the inception of the ICT skills programme, 32 IT entrepreneurs will now  be graduating alongside the ICT skills graduates, certification on business management & entrepreneurship. These students were chosen to undergo this qualification following having completed their NQF level 4 and 5 courses in the ICT skills programme.

Trainees in the programme, established in partnership with Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, MICT-Seta and Independent Development Trust, receive accredited ICT training with the potential for beneficiaries to be offered practical experience in projects which can include IT technical support and the installation of hardware and software.

According to a report commissioned by Siemens, a potential of R4 trillion could be added to the African economy by 2026 through the adoption of digitalisation, and South Africa was found to have the highest potential to drive such innovation. However, the skilled workforce to tap into this market was found to be lacking.

Win-win, all round

Equipping the youth with transferable digital skills has been proven to not only improve their employment opportunities, but will also greatly increase the labour market as a whole, productivity, innovation and stimulate economic growth.

“We are committed to doing what we can to equip the youth with ICT skills in order for them to be absorbed within the ICT sector when job opportunities do arise. Through the ICT skills training programme, we are now able to fulfil this commitment and also play an active role in the creation of job opportunities for young people at a time when our South African young people face extreme difficulties engaging with the labour market due to a stagnant economy, concluded Netshitenzhe.

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