Di-Data urges tech skills development as SA falls behind

13 January 2017

Computing

The ICT skills shortage across Africa is well documented in publications that include the 7th edition of the JCSE ICT Skills Survey published in 2016 which expressed concern "at the lack of improvement in South Africa's basic education for the majority of pupils" along with a call for "exposure to and familiarity with ICTs for all learners."

As pupils return to schools for another year, Dimension Data has shared the progress of its Saturday School programme which achieved a 100% pass rate in National Senior Certificate Examinations.

Suzan Zungu, Senior Communications Manager at Dimension Data Middle East and Africa says the 50 students in their final year of high school and 50 others in their penultimate year who were enrolled into the Dimension Data Saturday School programme at the beginning of 2016 will continue to receive support from the company.

"The learners will receive bursaries from Dimension Data partner institutions and Dimension Data group companies (Dimension Data, Internet Solutions, Britehouse. Merchants, DD Advanced Infrastructure) will each sponsor a bursary to a deserving learner to study a course of their choice at an accredited institution. Our bursars will take part in vacation work programmes within the Dimension Data group in order to gain exposure to the corporate world and their careers of interest. Our bursars are also a feeder to our GAP programme (Graduate Accelerate Programme) which is geared towards integrating graduates into the Dimension Data professional environment and accelerating the acquisition of necessary skills and competencies to flourish in the company and industry."

Zungu says the Saturday School initiative is aimed at encouraging the competence in science and mathematics among high school learners who have tended to shy away from the subjects.

"The on-going scarcity of qualified engineers and IT specialists is a challenge for Dimension Data and the country at large. South Africa, like other parts of the world, is constantly faced with a shortage of ICT skills. This is owed to the unfortunate reality of maths and science having always been feared and perceived as the most complex subjects, as well as the fact that learners are frequently discouraged from furthering their studies in associated fields. It is for this reason that Dimension Data has decided to focus our socio economic development initiatives on education, specifically in the enhancement of mathematics and science skills. To this end, we continuously seek new and innovative solutions to support this endeavour."

Zungu also revealed that Dimension Data is in the process of finalising a new partnership with the Saturday School programme, although details of this would only be revealed at a later stage.

The JCSE also noted in its ICT Skills Survey that, "South Africa is falling behind its peers in Africa (notably Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt – our economy is now placed third in Africa behind the latter two countries) who are putting greater emphasis on the contribution that technology plays in economic growth and social development."

Learners in public schools all around South Africa begin the 2017 academic year today. The country's public schools obtained a pass rate of 76.2% in 2016.

Source: ITWeb Africa 11 January 2017