Digital skills hub to provide free access to MS Office 365 for South Africa’s youth

Information technology (IT) multinational Microsoft South Africa and digital skills organisation SAtion have formed a partnership to enhance the employability of youth through online platform the SAtion Digital Skills Hub.

The hub will provide free access to Microsoft Office 365 suite technology, free digital literacy resources and Microsoft Cloud Society resources to young South Africans aged 8 to 24.

The hub will offer three initiatives – the Global Skills Initiative (GSI), Mahala and Cloud Society – with each offering different opportunities for the youth, the unemployed, small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs), South Africans and government officials to acquire digital skills.

In this way, South Africans will be enabled to operate more effectively and competitively in the digital world.

“The digital economy creates the ideal opportunity for job creation. It also spurs innovation, boosts economic growth and supports long-term competitiveness,” says Microsoft South Africa MD Lillian Barnard.

“However, building the digital skills necessary to meet the changing landscape cannot be delivered by a single entity. Partnerships are essential for accelerating digital transformation and, more importantly, unlocking vital upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

“Through this partnership and the digital skills initiatives associated with it, we look forward to making a meaningful contribution in building South Africa’s digital capability, competitiveness and confidence.”

The GSI is a Microsoft programme that has empowered more than 30-million people around the world with skills needed for the digital economy.

In South Africa, through the Digital Skills Hub, the initiative will enable a minimum of 50 000 unemployed and disadvantaged people to acquire digital skills and certification for in-demand jobs in, for example, customer services, IT support, software development and graphic design.

The Mahala initiative allows people between the ages of 8 and 24 to sign up for free access to the Microsoft 365 suite, which includes programs for operating in the digital world, such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Mahala users will also have access to 5 TB of online cloud storage, to ensure they are able to safely save their documents and access them remotely off any device. This is expected to greatly enhance access to IT-aided education in South Africa.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft Cloud Society is a programme designed to support South Africans in becoming world-class experts in the space of cloud computing.

Aimed at more advanced users already working in the IT industry, Cloud Society allows users to access comprehensive support in their journeys to becoming cloud computing experts.

The Digital Skills Hub will enable access to Microsoft’s one-stop platform hosting thousands of online learning courses aimed at turning users into Microsoft Azure experts.

Users have the option to become Microsoft-certified professionals through writing certification exams in a number of roles including developer, data scientist and artificial intelligence engineer, at an affordable cost.

Local nonprofit organisation Afrika Tikkun, through its skills and placement arm, Afrika Tikkun Services, will be offering access to computer equipment to ensure jobseekers are able to register for, and make use of, the GSI online learning programmes.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with SAtion as the implementing partner of Microsoft on the GSI project. We believe this partnership will enable young people to acquire in-demand digital skills and the technical certifications that are needed to position them well for the job market.

“We encourage young people to grab the opportunity offered through this initiative with both hands,” says Afrika Tikkun Services CEO Onyi Nwaneri.

Launched on June 14, SAtion draws together stakeholders in the private and public sectors, including government, large corporations, SMMEs, industrialists, private investors, thought leaders, and educational institutions, to discuss, coordinate and implement Fourth Industrial Revolution projects.

In this way, the initiative will ensure that public decision-makers and private sector entities are working together towards swift and sustainable economic growth in a twenty-first-century context.

South Africans that want to begin their digital upskilling journey with SAtion and Microsoft can visit the Digital Skills Hub website to register for the programme that best meets their needs.

Schalk Burger, edited by Chanel de Bruyn – (Engineering News – June 29, 2021)
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Image source: Microsoft

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