The Department of Basic Education partnered with Microsoft to provide digital skills training to 25 000 unemployed youth in South Africa.
The partnership is as part of the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) which, according to the department, created more than 300 000 job opportunities across the country.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshega said the initiative forms part of the broader announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa in October 2020 of a R100-billion fund to create 800 000 public sector jobs in the next three years.
Paddy Padayachee, Deputy Director-General and Project Owner at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said by investing in digital skills development programmes, the department is empowering the country’s youth with critical skills and creating employment opportunities.
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“As the South African government continues to ramp up investment as part of its goal to stimulate economic recovery and employment opportunities, the Department of Basic Education has committed to playing a key role in strengthening the teaching and learning environment in South African schools,” said Padayachee.
Padayachee said the department’s training programme in partnership with Microsoft will enable the unemployed youth to gain relevant digital skills as well as create employment opportunities for these youth as education assistants equipped to support teachers and learners.
He said the programme also ensures that the unemployed youth gain meaningful experience to improve their overall employability.
“This all ties in with government’s overall digital transformation journey and to develop the skills needed to meet the current and future requirements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Padayachee.
The training, which ran until the end of March 2021, combined virtual remote instructor-led training and self-paced online learning using Microsoft Teams.
Padayachee said the programme equipped successful candidates identified by the individual provincial education departments with skills needed for their duties as education assistants to support teachers and learners in approximately 25 000 schools across the country.
“These skills include moving from the basics of digital literacy to using technology for learning and teaching, as well as an introductory course of coding.
“The eCadres were trained on how to work with computers, online tools to communicate and collaborate online, and to enhance teaching and deepen learning,” said Padayachee.
Adding that this also includes support and the transfer of skills to teachers in terms of remote training and learning, navigating e-course material and submitting online assessments.
Sikhumbuzo Ngcobo, Public Sector Director at Microsoft South Africa said digital skills are the backbone of the ability to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He said these skills act as a driver of youth employment, education and broader economic growth in the country.
“This is why we actively work to collaborate with public and private sector partners to develop these critical capabilities where they are most in demand,” said Ngcobo.
Adding that partnering with government through our skills development programmes also supports their overall transformation journey by helping to create a strong pipeline of digital skills needed to navigate a rapidly evolving world.
According to Padayachee, the youth employment drive is working to improve teaching and learning in South African schools while simultaneously creating job opportunities for unemployed youth and passing on the skills needed by the country’s future workforce.
Padayachee said on successful completion of the digital skills training programme, eCadres have access to Microsoft Learn, an online learning platform where they can access interactive, hands-on learning paths, acquire new skills, and find certifications to advance their careers.