Today, Vodacom is celebrating the achievements of 146 youth, including 89 women who graduated with certified ICT certificates from the mobile operator’s Youth Academy programme at a virtual graduation ceremony. The graduates spent 12 demanding months training through the Vodacom Youth Academy, whose sole purpose is empowering unemployed youth from impoverished backgrounds with ICT skills.
The programme is designed to inspire graduates to use the ICT skills they’ve acquired to better their lives through furthering their education, looking for entrepreneurial opportunities or seeking employment. To date, the programme has trained 1 479 unemployed youth. Vodacom’s commitment is to train another 1 750 young people on digital skills through the youth academy by 2025. The training is offered free of charge but is valued at over R100 000. Students also receive a stipend.
“Increasing rates of youth unemployment remains a major challenge in South Africa. At the same time, businesses of all types and sizes are struggling to fill a wide range of digital technology roles that are critical for future growth,” says Takalani Netshitenzhe, External Affairs Director for Vodacom South Africa.
“The programme, which is a partnership with various players within the ICT space, aims at developing ICT skills in the youth of the country who would otherwise not have the opportunity to do so and give them a fighting chance in this tough economy.”
Trainees in the programme, established in partnership with Cisco, MICT-Seta and Department of Basic Education, receive accredited ICT training with the potential for beneficiaries to be offered internships and workplace experience.
South Africa has suffered from persistently high levels of unemployment. According to 2020 data from StatsSA, youth unemployment in South Africa currently stands at 59%, and the country continues to experience a shortage of skills in the ICT field. Finding innovative and inclusive ways to bridge the digital skills gap has now become a priority for job seekers and employers alike.
“Urgent action is needed to help young people develop their digital skills and access learning and employment opportunities, which is why equipping youth with the skills to thrive in the digital economy is one of our highest priorities,” she continues.
Vodacom already zero-rates public platforms for schools and universities, reaching over 1.2 million users through its e-learning platform, and connecting over 3,000 schools across South Africa.
Empowering South Africa’s youth with transferable digital skills has been proven to not only improve their employment prospects but will also stimulate the labour market as a whole, increasing productivity, fostering innovation and promoting economic growth. A work skills programme, which focuses on re-training unemployed Youth Academy alumni, is also being introduced.
“Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, South Africa will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind,” says Netshitenzhe.