Johannesburg – The City of Johannesburg and Microsoft South Africa have joined forces to train one million disadvantaged residents, free, on digital skills and literacy over a period of five-years.
The City’s Mayor Parks Tau announced this on Tuesday, in Johannesburg, saying registration commences early in August and the curriculum is expected to begin in September. The initiative is termed JoziMS1million.
He said 800 000 of the one million to benefit from the programme will be youth between 18 and 34 years of age, and the rest will be those above 35 but 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 is a result of continuous engagements that the city has been conducting with various private sector companies.
The Mayor said reports show that by 2012, 50% of the already existing jobs required basic digital skills, and this trend is expected to increase to 77% by 2022.
He said the programme will be using the Vulindlele Jozi portal to register the 800 000 youth. For those above 35, the Mayor said she 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, and the company’s Managing Director Zoaib Hoosen told SAnews that the initiative is a product of an engagement that the city had with Microsoft in the last three months, to see what is it that they can merge for the benefit of residents and to grow the economy.
He said without the partnership, both the City and Microsoft would not be able implement this programme and achieve the outcomes.
As the world continues to evolve more digitally, Hoosen says many companies are moving towards the digital environment and it will soon become a basic requirement for job seekers to have basic digital skills when applying for jobs. This is the case for entrepreneurs as well.
“Certainly, the physical world and the digital world are coming together, and I think it is a very important channel to market. Everyone in business has to make sure that it [their product] resonates with the customers and audiences you are trying to reach. It is a platform that one cannot ignore,” he said.
He said, 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,” said Hoosen.
He said for more youth to be able to exploit the digital revolution, they have to acquire skills.
The announcement ceremony was graced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said he will be an evangelist across the country preaching the works of the City of Johannesburg and encouraging 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.
Applauding the city, Deputy President Ramaphosa said: “This is truly economic democracy at work and opening the corridors of freedom of the city of Johannesburg. I have seen how many of these initiatives are living up to this dream, to this concept of economic democracy. What I saw today is how Johannesburg is unblocking the entrepreneurial capabilities and the spirit of the people of Johannesburg through provision of skills.”
He said Johannesburg is the city where people can come and have their dreams fulfilled. He said he was glad that the city was giving people the tools to work on achieving their dreams.
“I have categorised Johannesburg as a smart city, an intelligent city that is run by people who have a vision… who also want to take the place and its people to places. This is the city on the move, the city that is going somewhere,” he said.