20 October 2011
The South African government, through the multi-stakeholder collaborative ‘e-Skills Institute’, is set to substantially improve regional and national e-Skills levels, and to harness the economic and social benefits offered by Information Communication Technology (ICT). The e-Skills Institute, of which ICDL South Africa is a board member, aims to establish and manage the e-Skills Knowledge Production Hubs, located in five of South Africa’s leading universities1.
The principal objective of these hubs is to provide a proactive and innovative learning environment to promote the diffusion of ICT skills and knowledge in more regional parts of the country. The initiative will provide a stepped approach to skills development; it is projected that 70,000 employment opportunities will arise from recent investment measures (across several sectors), and many of these will require ICT skills. The e-Skills hubs will enable training to be delivered from basic skills right through to IT professional level; the ICDL programme, due to its global success as the leading ICT certification, is to be implemented to develop national e-Skills levels in a wide range of computer applications. The aim is that an appropriate training and learning environment will, at the lower level, go a long way to demystifying technology – a lack of basic skills, and a fear of technology, is currently turning potential workers away from jobs and career paths that have a reliance on ICT.
The ability to effectively use ICT is of critical importance to South Africa’s mid- and long-term economic growth and social prosperity. Due to the considerable donations of computing hardware by private sector donors, and on account of a concerted effort by the Department of Communications to improve the provision of broadband, it is a lack of e-Skills that is currently the principal impediment to growth. The e-Skills Institute, through these e-Skills hubs, will significantly address the ICT skills shortfall.
According to the Minister for Communications, Radhakrishna Padayachie:
“A priority for the Department of Communications is in actioning the e-Skills Institute as a catalytic collaborator and leader that can harness existing capacity, find new capacity and engage all stakeholders in positioning our Nation for equitable prosperity and global competitiveness in the Information Society and Knowledge economies, as well as improving our service delivery, increasing societal participation in building safer, vibrant, engaged and more self-reliant communities.”
1. Durban University of Technology, the Walter Sisulu University, the Vaal University of Technology, the University of the Western Cape and, the University of Pretoria