JOHANNESBURG - Information and communications technology company T-Systems says its partnership with the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC) in Mpumalanga province highlights its successes in driving the sharing of knowledge and development of skills in local communities that need it the most.
The HDLC was established as a collaboration between T-Systems and the Goodwork Foundation with the goal of offering local youth education that would translate into practical employment.
It is one of several collaborative initiatives the company has embarked on to up-skill youth from poor communities in support of South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) and to combat unemployment.
Data from the country's statistics agency shows that 40.7 percent of 20.3 million young people aged 15-34 years were not in employment, education or training in the first quarter of 2019. In largely rural provinces like Mpumalanga, the youth are traditionally even worse off, as they face unemployment rates higher than the national average.
"Because we are looking for a long term solution to the shortage of skills and jobs in South Africa, we made sure that our nation building initiative is aligned with the NDP – with its aim of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030," T-Systems South Africa managing director Dineo Molefe said.
"We focus on empowering people and businesses through sustainable projects that promote education, skills development, job creation and entrepreneurship. We are planning ahead for the future but starting now with the foundations to build it."
Based in the peri-urban village of Shabalala, the centre implements three stages of education and training, including the Open Learning Academy which partners with rural primary schools, allowing them to outsource digital, English and Mathematics literacy to the HDLC. Additional subjects include conservation, coding and robotics.
The Bridging Academy creates an access bridge between school and work or further educational training, preparing rural school leavers for life in modern business environments. Graduates can apply to advanced career-training academies and programmes that respond to the needs of the community in which the campus is located.
The HDLC provides supplementary digital literacy, English and ready-to-work skills to 5,000 school learners every week via the Open Learning Academy and over 1,000 young school leavers have graduated from the Bridging Academy and Career-Training Academies for adults.
"My learners have developed effective communication by reading digital stories from tablets," said Mrs. Sithole, a Grade 7 English teacher from Mpunzana primary school which has benefited from the programme. "Using tablets has improved and changed their concentration and ability to perform tasks in English."
T-Systems has also extended its service desk that was situated in Midrand to Hazyview by utilising talent and skills developed by the HDLC, creating job opportunities for the campus’ young graduates.
The service desk started in 2016 with four agents who were fully qualified ICT support engineers from Hazyview and this was expanded to 28 agents in 2018. Some 36 percent of the Hazyview service desk agents are women, a major improvement since the beginning of the project.