Microsoft and SAtion announce Digital Skills Hub partnership to alleviate unemployment and bridge the digital divide in South Africa

After the announcement this month of record-high unemployment figures in South Africa which, in particular, paint a grim picture for the country’s youth, SAtion is proud to announce a partnership with Microsoft to enhance South Africans’ employability in the digital age. The partnership’s online platform — the SAtion Digital Skills Hub — will invest in the country’s socio-economic progress by providing free access to Microsoft Office 365 suite technology to young South Africans from 8-24 years, free digital literacy resources, and Microsoft Cloud Society resources.

Launched on 14 June, 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, co-ordinate and implement Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) 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 21st century context, rather than working against each other.

“President Ramaphosa’s conviction that South Africa’s youth will be at the centre of our economic recovery has never been more true – and the stakes have never been higher. Our determination to secure a competitive digital future for our youth and unemployed has driven us to conclude this momentous partnership” says Adam Craker, CEO of IQbusiness and enabling partner to SAtion.

The Digital Skills Hub will host three initiatives — the Global Skills Initiative, Mahala, and Cloud Society — each offering different opportunities for the youth, the unemployed, SMMEs, all 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. 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,” says Lillian Barnard, CEO at Microsoft South Africa.

The Global Skills Initiative is a Microsoft programme that has already empowered more than 30 million people around the world with digital skills 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.

Local NPO, Afrika Tikkun, through its skills and placement arm, Afrika Tikkun Services, will be offering access to computer equipment to ensure that jobseekers are able to register for, and make use of, the Global Skills Initiative’s (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”, concludes Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services.

Mahala is an initiative that allows people between the ages of 8 and 24 to sign up for free access to the Microsoft 365 suite, which includes programs indispensable to operating in the digital world, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Mahala users will also have access to 5TB 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.

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 AI Engineer, at an affordable cost.

South Africans wishing 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.

Yiba – Jun 30, 2021
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