Almost 100 computer science graduates who were struggling to find jobs are being given intensive technology and soft skills training to prepare them for new careers as mentors in community technology centres.
The graduates – many of whom have honours degrees – are part of a programme being run by the Department of Science and Technology and Microsoft to drive greater technology skills in disadvantaged areas of the country.
The training is being presented in several centres across the country by a Microsoft Certified Training Partner, LGIT Smart Solutions and its sister company, BluePrint Future Skills Development. Training started in March this year, and continues until November, when the graduates will be deployed across the country to share their newfound skills, says Natascha Prussen, LGIT’s MD.
The trainees were split into two groups. One set of training courses has been designed to provide additional IT skills to graduates who will ultimately support and maintain a countrywide network of computer science centres. The other set of training is geared towards providing skills to drive improved communication, raise the public’s understanding of science and technology and develop and maintain a website that will market the centres.
“Feedback received from graduates on the training program has been positive and uplifting,” says Prussen. “With a new understanding of technology and its offerings, graduates are now requesting new and exciting courses to add to their current skills portfolio.”
Pre-assessments conducted on all graduates to determine their initial skill levels in applications like Microsoft Word, Windows and Excel showed a lower level of competence than initially anticipated, and the training program had to be structured accordingly.
LGIT Smart Solutions saw an opportunity to align closely with the Microsoft’s Student to Business Campaign, which mentors, trains and places graduates within the company’s extensive partner network. As a result, Microsoft agreed to pay half the cost of the entire training programme.
David Ives, head of the developer and platform team at Microsoft South Africa, says the initiative is an extension of the company’s existing initiatives as part of its commitment to developing skills for employability in this country.
“The initiative allows students to access the latest computer technologies and receive higher levels of professional ICT training, making them more employable. We’ll also provide courses and certification to the unemployed, people with disabilities and older workers at government- or Microsoft-subsidised rates,” he says.