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How businesses can help build the next ICT generation

by Justin
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With 34.4% of citizens unemployed and the majority of that (74.8%) being youth aged between 15 and 24, combined with the fact it is no secret that South African businesses have a major skills deficit in the next generation of our workforce, organisations have an immense opportunity to make an impact. 

Prudence Mabitsela, founder and Managing Director of Dynamic DNA, a leading training and skills development company empowering Africa’s ICT generation believes by employing more youth in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) businesses can propel Africa into the future, bridge the skills deficit of our workforce, close the gender divide, and help the unemployment gap. 

She shares three ways companies can participate to advance women in the industry.

  1. Learnerships

The challenge in learnerships is twofold: firstly, companies have to deal with the administrative challenges associated with SETA applications, learnership hiring, management of the learner, training, reporting, admin, document records, auditing and then the successful absorption or placement of the learner. 

Employing young highly skilled individuals means not only hiring employees with the necessary skills to improve their businesses but also improving their B-BBEE score, getting tax rebates, and most importantly sustainably transition into the digital economy. 

“Our role as the facilitators of these learnerships benefit both parties. For companies we handle the full suite skills development solution necessary from hiring, SETA admin, reporting, mentoring, training, and placement – taking away the burden of learnerships which is often a big inhibitor to the process,” says Mabitsela. 

Secondly, a challenge that we often hear businesses facing when it comes to employing young team members is that the education they have received is incomplete in terms of soft skills, such as communication and etiquette, to properly equip them to be productive members of a team. However, you have ambitious technically qualified young workers who – due to inexperience – are unable to get a start in the industry. 

Dynamic DNA’s learnership programme offers young learners the ability to pursue a career in the ICT sector with special focus on upskilling and facilitating workplace placement for their graduates. In addition to providing technical skills, they focus on practical and soft skills such as communication skills, work etiquette, time management, presentation skills, and more elements essential to them creating fulfilling careers.

Dynamic DNA graduates can build innovative solutions across multiple technologies, both on-premises and in the Cloud. They learn the skills to design and build agile applications in a complex business environment making them a valuable asset to the workforce.

  1. 4IR4Her

Mabitsela has heeded the call and is leading from the front by empowering women in ICT through the 4IR4HER movement. 4IR is the term given for the profound period of transition we find ourselves in. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, 4IR, or Industry 4.0, refers to the rapid change to technology, industries, and societal patterns we see due to increasing interconnectivity and smart automation. 

As a democratising force, 4IR is potentially powerful and could provide women with the opportunity to compete in the knowledge economy. However, this will only if happen if adequate attention is paid to existing gender divisions and equal opportunities are assured.  

“Having come from humble beginnings growing up in Soweto, I believe in shaping the future and enriching lives by developing and empowering young black women by giving access to education and showing what is possible in my career,” says Mabitsela.

“When people look at black women excellence, they want to see a picture. There is a gap for women to take on powerful positions in business, in the technology sector and entrepreneurship and yet we see few successful women who have made it in the industry.  I want to change the narrative for young women to one where you do not need to be interlinked to a man to become successful.” 

As the chairperson of the non-profit 4IR4Her – a Dynamic DNA programme that brings women empowerment, female youth, and women in tech together – Mabitsela is intentionally moving womankind towards different 4IR tech opportunities in streams like robotics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and UX/IX by assisting them to equip themselves with key skills for the future. Currently there are 15 women in the programme.

“It is a crucial part of the learning journey to be paired up with an entrepreneur that is successful in the tech or business space to learn the key lessons you can never be taught in a book.  How to manoeuvre through your day as a businesswoman, how to diversify revenue streams if you are self-employed, what do you do when you see risks in your business, what contingency plans you need and so on.”

  1. Pay your device forward 

Mabitsela is a firm believer that Covid-19 should not become yet another barrier black women have to overcome to receive the education they are entitled to. However, there is no doubt that Covid-19 has affected learning and skills development around the world because of how the education landscape hybridises digital learning training. It is the responsibility of businesses to ensure our underprivileged youth don’t get left behind. 

In response to this shift in the landscape, Dynamic DNA in Partnership with the COMETSA Friends & Supporters Club NPO and Kaya FM, launched a campaign that will enable learners from disadvantaged communities to access online training. The campaign calls for individuals and corporates alike to ‘Pay Your Device Forward’ and donate new/old devices like laptops, smartphones, WiFi routers and tablets to enable continuous skills development for the disadvantaged youth.

Determined to be an icon for hope, Mabitsela is leading the charge by empowering women to empower others by equipping young previously disadvantaged women with the right skills for the future.  

“ICT skills are greatly needed to build our economy and there are many scarce skills that are needed to do this. I believe the business and ICT sectors could drive youth employment through technology skills if they wanted to,” Mabitsela says.  

“When you look at the employment challenges within South Africa today, the predominant reason why our statistics are so high is because of a lack of skills in industries related to the 4IR that is booming, she adds.

“Businesses need to set up sustainable ways to digitise and young people need to be fully equipped with skills that will still be relevant over the coming decades.”

 

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