The City of Johannesburg and Microsoft South Africa have joined forces to provide one million disadvantaged residents with free digital skills and literacy training over a period of five-years.
The city’s Mayor Parks Tau announced this in Johannesburg recently. Registration for the programme started early in August and teaching is expected to begin in September.
He said 800 000 of the one million to benefit from the programme will be youths between the ages of 18 and 34. The rest will be those above the age of 35 who still need to access the job market at entry level.
The curriculum will cover five key topics including Computer Skills; The Internet; Cloud Services and the World Wide Web; Productivity Programmes (Microsoft Office); Computer Security and Privacy; and Digital Lifestyles.
Mayor Tau said the partnership was motivated by the realisation that youth would need digital skills to break barriers to entry into the job market. He said this was a result of continuous engagements between the city and various private sector companies.
He said the programme will be using the Vulindlele Jozi portal to register the 800 000 youth. Those who are above the age of 35 will go to the centres provided by the city for registrations.
“We are breaking down barriers for the people of Johannesburg to get these jobs that will be available in the market that require skills. The investments on the overall project come from the City of Johannesburg and Microsoft; the participants are not required to pay a fee. This is very important for those people who cannot afford to pay fees to acquire skills,” said Mayor Tau.
Microsoft has invested about R200 million in the programme. The company’s Managing Director Zoaib Hoosen told Vuk’uzenzele that the partnership between the city and Microsoft was central to implementing the programme and achieving the intended outcomes.
As the world continues to evolve with digital technology filtering into increasing aspects of our lives it will soon become a basic requirement for job seekers to have basic digital skills when applying for jobs.
“Certainly, the physical world and the digital world are coming together, and I think it is a very important channel to market,” he said.
Hoosen added that, in his observation, youth who use digital technology for business purposes are making huge amounts of profits, and successful businesses are investing in their products.
“Young people around ages of 19 and 20 are starting businesses on the basis of digital platforms … new industries are going to be formed, new jobs are going to come about.”
He said for more youth to be able to exploit the digital revolution, they have to acquire skills. Also in attendance was Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who encouraged other cities to be innovative in changing the lives of their residents.
“Smart cities, smart towns, need to go beyond just provision of services to their citizens. They now need to move into improving the economic life of the city, and by so doing having a positive impact on the lives of the people who live in the city,” said the Deputy President. He said Johannesburg was the city where people come and have their dreams fulfilled.