The Department of Communications (DoC), with its eSkills Institute, aims to help state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the private sector create 1-million sustainable new jobs in the ICT sector by 2020.

With 70% of South Africa’a massive pool of unemployed people below the age of 34, the need to increase skills and create jobs has never been more urgent.

Deputy minister Obed Bapela laments the fact that South Africa, which used to lead Africa in technology skills, now ranks only fourth on the continent.

“We need to change the way we deal with this discussion,” he says. “We need growth and jobs – only then can we deal with poverty and unemployment.

“The challenge is skills – we need professional skills.”

Bapela points out that research shows about 70 000 positions are currently unfilled because there are no candidates with the right skills available to fill them – and this is against a backdrop of massive unemployment.

The eSkills Institute, he adds, enjoys the backing of various local and international bodies. It hopes to start making a contribution towards upskilling South African’s with the correct skills.

The Institute is currently collaborating with schools, colleges and universities and expects to roll out new curricula by the beginning of 2013.