South Africa is battling with relevant technology skills for now and the future. In response to this challenge a number of technology companies are developing skills development programmes to address this challenge. Huawei is one of those companies. Huawei South Africa has celebrated the success of its first Youth Upskilling programme recipients at an event at which the ICT company was commended for taking an outcomes- and needs-based approach by providing young graduates with skills required within the sector and matching them with employment opportunities.
The endorsement came from business, academia and the government at an event to mark the initiative and award the first group of 12 graduates with certificates for completing their theory training. The programme aims to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical workplace skills in ICT disciplines and get young graduates job ready to fill in-demand positions within the telecommunications industry such as field maintenance engineers, electrical engineers and riggers.
The event was attended by South Africa’s Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, representatives from academia, the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT Seta), and Huawei’s subcontractor partners.
“Huawei’s vision and approach to training is perfectly aligned to that of the South African government with regards to skills training. We can see that Huawei is actively implementing that vision to the benefit of South African youth – as well as the economy more broadly.”
Nxesi emphasised that the government would now focus on promoting skills training that is led by the demands of the labour market. “This means aligning training to the future of technology and the future world of work, as well as linking training to the provision of employment opportunities in those specific skills.”
The global ICT company which already has a strong ICT talent ecosystem targeted at preparing South Africa for an inclusive digital economy, partnered with its subcontractors for this programme. It will train up to 150 young people, from which the subcontractor partners hope to absorb 100 successful candidates. Most of the graduates will be drawn from TVET colleges.
“The investment we have made in ICT skills cultivation in South Africa is aimed at improving ICT skills provision in the country to create a healthy and sustainable ecosystem where everyone can benefit,” said Huawei Southern Africa president Leo Chen.
“We need a multi-layered approach to digital skills to fully reap the benefits of a digital economy. Firstly, we need digital leadership, to set policy and guide digital transformation, a reskilled and upskilled workforce, youth following relevant ICT-related studies, and lastly, we need a digitally literate citizenry,” said Chen.
The upskilling programme has two phases. First, trainees attend a 10-day theory course on wireless/TX training which includes content on environmental health and safety, standard operating procedures, site energy maintenance, and operation web services tools practice and training. On completion, trainees will begin a month-long internship during which they will gain on-the-job experience by working in the field. Once these two phases are completed, outstanding students will be selected and offered employment contracts by Huawei’s subcontractor partners.
Speaking at the ceremony after receiving his certificate for completing the programme, graduate Bright Leso reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment in South Africa.
“In 2020 and 2021, we have seen businesses closing down and employees losing their jobs, as youth we have also felt the impact of the current global pandemic. We thank Huawei, that it is still driven to provide youth empowerment and job skills in an ailing economy. We feel obliged to do well and succeed to sow success back into our communities, and this training we received has the potential to open doors for us in the telecommunications industry.”
Concluding the programme, Nxesi thanked Huawei for its contribution to South African youth skills training and gave the trainees some encouragement. “You are at an important point in your career paths, your future success is in your own hands, it requires hard work, diligence and commitment, and I wish you well.”
Huawei is working on other skills development programmes to fill the skills gap in South Africa.