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1500 unemployed, young people gain access to much needed Skills Sharing

Through an internship programme at teacher centres across South Africa, hundreds of young people have been given access to the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum, which offers an introduction to ICT skills and concepts.

“Do a search for the most sought-after skills for employment in South Africa right now and, without fail, tech-related skills top that list. To find jobs for the millions of young South Africans without work, many of whom have never even had access to a PC, we need to find ways to equip them with these valuable skills,” says Roelof de Bruyn, Business Development Consultant of leading learning solutions provider, Masterskill.

This is where the Department of Education’s (DBE’s) District Teacher Development Centres (‘teacher centres’) come in. Thanks to a partnership between the DBE and Vodacom, 115 of South Africa’s 147 centres have been provided with Internet infrastructure, opening up a myriad of opportunities for e-learning

At 35 teacher centres, teachers can now access the Microsoft Educator Community platform, which provides training programmes for Microsoft applications that will assist them in the classroom. To date, over 3,200 teachers have completed courses.

However, given that teachers are only at the centres in the afternoon, the DBE, Masterskill, Microsoft, MICT Seta, UNICEF and Vodacom saw the opportunity to extend the training opportunities to unemployed young people from the communities in which these centres are based; the idea being to equip them with the skills to find a job.

In April 2016, 35 technology graduates began a one-year internship through Microsoft’s Student2Business programme at teacher centres across South Africa. Over the course of the year the interns assisted hundreds of unemployed young people in accessing the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum, which gives learners a fundamental understanding of computers from computer basics to cloud services and computer security. The interns also assisted the teachers with the Microsoft Educator Community platform. “The internship programme has been an incredible success and shows what is possible when Government and the private sector come together and make use of the resources at our disposal for everyone’s benefit,” says Dr Aaron Nkosi, learning space manager at the DBE.

“Through this programme we have equipped graduates with much needed workplace experience and at the same time provided both teachers and unemployed young people with valuable skills,” he explains.

“With guidance from the interns, more than 1500 young people completed the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum at the teacher development centres.

“Ten of the teacher centres (one in each province and two in Gauteng) have now been set up as Microsoft Imagine Academies with the support of Vodacom. This means that unemployed young people will now have access to a wealth of course content providing specialised skills across three key focus areas namely productivity, computer science and IT infrastructure. Teachers and young people who are still at school will also have access to this content,” says Angela Schaerer, Teacher Engagement Manager at Microsoft.

While the courses offered through the Microsoft Imagine Academies are more likely to enable young people to find meaningful employment, the Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum was a good place to start as many of the young people that came into the centres had limited exposure to computers.

“The interns have played an important role in providing unemployed young people across South Africa with the skills they need to access these courses online. From how to use a mouse to how to get started on the training, they have given young people access to invaluable skills,” explains de Bruyn.

The interns, who all had a tertiary IT-related qualification, got the opportunity to reinforce their own skills but also to learn other

important life skills that will assist them in building a successful career. “This programme has been an inspiration. It shows what is possible when there is a well co-ordinated partnership, strong management and support for the youth interns to realise their potential. I was struck by how young people have learned how to work with older adult teachers with patience, respect and growing confidence,” says Shafika Isaacs, UNICEF Technical Advisor to the Department of Basic Education.

Five of the interns reflect on their year at the teacher centres which have been posted as separate testimonials.