From left to right: Precious Sikhosana, BANKSETA; Nhlakanipho Tshapa, Graduate; Mzolisi Mzikisa, Graduate; Mike Mfeka, Ithala SOC Limited Manager: Capacity Building & Development; Siphiwe Maphumulo, Graduate; Thobeka Mngoma, Graduate and Sifiso Mdlalose, BANKSETA.

DURBAN - A partnership between Ithala and BANKSETA to empower KwaZulu-Natal youth with IT skills and experience has culminated in a graduation ceremony for 75 IT boffins today.

The BANKSETA ICT Work Readiness Programme provides ICT training to participants all over the country and is designed to address the identified ICT skills shortages in the banking and microfinance sector.

The 10-month programme includes four months of in-service training for System Support culminating in an NQF Level 5 certification and 60 credits.

South Africa was ranked 49th out of 63 economies in the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018, marking a drop from the previous year's 47th position in the overall digital ranking. Digital competitiveness was ranked according to three indicators - knowledge, technology and future readiness. According to the report, SA's drop in rankings was influenced by the decline in knowledge and future readiness.

Sihle Gwala, Head of Human Resources at Ithala SOC Limited said: “We support the National Agenda of ‘making every workspace a training space’ It is imperative that we build a pipeline of IT talent to keep pace with a technologically advancing world where these skills are in high demand.”

As a pioneer in banking the unbanked in KZN, Ithala SOC Limited remains steadfast in its commitment to fulfilling its mandate to serve ordinary South Africans.

“The partnership with BANKSETA enables us as a financial services provider to contribute to the objectives of the Financial Sector Charter by developing the competencies of learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in KZN and improving their chances of employment.”

Gwala said it was concerning that South African companies were looking overseas for critical skills that can’t be found on our home ground, adding that the gap to develop young IT professionals needed to be pursued vigorously. 

The graduates who joined Ithala SOC Limited were in high praise of the programme and grateful for the opportunity to work in a professional environment which exposed them to a variety of skills and capabilities.

Siphiwe Maphumulo, 28, from Kwamakhasa in Hluhluwe, northern KwaZulu-Natal said, "I gained valuable experience in the banking sector and thoroughly enjoyed my internship. I am confident the practical experience will work in my favour when applying for jobs that require traceable references". Maphumulo obtained a Bachelor of Commerce in Management Information Systems from the University of Zululand.

Thobeka Mngoma, 25, from Ntuzuma, Durban said, "I enjoyed my training experience. I was treated as a professional and believe the internship has prepared me well for the future. I came here with nothing except theoretical knowledge but now I have a better understanding of what is happening in the IT field". Mngoma has a National Diploma in Information Technology from Damelin.

A distribution network of 39 Ithala branches in KZN provides convenient transacting facilities. Ithala offers a comprehensive portfolio of corporate and personal banking solutions.