Saldanha Bay, first to benefit in bridging digital divide

Saldanha Bay, to get a digital boost.Image: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Saldanha Bay, to get a digital boost.Image: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 25, 2022


By: Siyabonga Sithole

Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape is set to be the first city to benefit from the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority's (CHIETA) innovative way of bridging the country's digital divide through a fully automated SMART skills centre to be built the area.

This is part of CHIETA's plan to have a fully automated end to end digitised, SMART skills centre in every province in the country by 2025 which in turn is part of a bigger plan to revolutionize digital skills development in a country.

The country digital landscape is vast and fragmented and the country could do with wide-ranging initiatives to bridge the digital divide gap that exists between urban and rural areas.

This initiative by CHIETA forms part of a coordinated effort and greater collaboration between CHIETA and the education.

CHIETA CEO, Yershen Pillay says the fragmented nature of tje country digital skilLs landscape is in need of coordinated effort to stem the tide of digital mis-match.

" In South Africa, he skill development landscape is vast and fragmented with multiple stakeholder from skills development providers to skills authorities such as CHIETA.

Recent data from Boston Consulting Group suggested that South Africa had the largest share of mismatched workers, at a staggering 50% of 30 emerging market economies. He skills mismatch is root cause and one of the main contributing factors to the high unemployment rate in the country.

According to StatsSA, unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 35,3% with youth unemployment rate at a catastrophic 66,5%. The high unemployment rate requires decisive action on he part of government, business and civil society," Pillay says.

According to CHIETA, thus initiative come a year after Qatar launched uts first 'Education City' initiative in an ambitious attempt to revolutionise education infrastructure development.

The initiative houses 50 local and international education related institutions offering education from basic kindergarten level to doctoral programmes, all in one centralised space.

Qatar's Education City is located in the western edge of capital city Doha and includes technology labs, primary and secondary schools, technical and vocational colleges, innovation incubators and eight foreign university campuses including top global universities such as Carnegie Mellon( a private research university based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) which provides a central hub for education excellence and for innovation and collaboration to thrive.

According to Pillay, Saldanha Bay Bay is not the only city that will in the near future as the initiative will soon find itself in KwaZulu Natal and other provinces.

CHIETA's plan is to have a fully automated, end to end digitized, SMART skills centre in every province by 2025.

This will provide the basis for bridging the digital skills divide in nuanced ways.

For example, the SMART Skills centres will provide digital boardrooms, digitised training, experiences, such as critical reality training for welders and chemical operators, virtual interview facilities free training courses with credentials and many more digitised skills development and training programmes in collaboration with institutions of higher learning", Pillay added.

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