Effective skills development is the answer to unemployment, which is why Belgian entrepreneurs Jan Rombouts and Enrico Jacobs established the Belgium Campus in 1999.
The Campus strives to alleviate the educational and unemployment challenges in South Africa, specifically by aiding candidates in meeting the critical skills needs in the ICT sector.
“With the understanding that traditional institutions do not always deliver on work readiness, the Belgium Campus has implemented pioneering methods to ensure that graduates not only receive a qualification, but are immediately employable too,” says Jacobs, founder and vice-chancellor of Belgium Campus. “Our initial inspiration in 1999 was the need to build a new nation, with talent being sourced from the grassroot levels up — all while bringing higher education, research and industry together to get graduates ready for the real world.”
As the only institution that concentrates exclusively on the ICT sector, the Belgium Campus’ graduates feed up to 10% of the total graduates to the industry annually. Qualifications are locally and internationally accredited to the highest academic standards available in South Africa, obtaining the recognition of international partners, including the Association of the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium).
With a focus on continuous improvement, and in recognition of the dire need to integrate technology and innovation into education, the Campus has joined the Infor Education Alliance Programme (EAP).
The Infor EAP delivers next-generation tools for future leaders, and works with local universities across the EMEA region. The partnership with the Belgium Campus is the first in Africa, with plans for expansion in process. Participants in the programme get access to specialised software packages, training materials, and customised learning experiences, using groundbreaking technology that is already transforming work for more than 90 000 organisations worldwide.
“With these industry-specific business tools, proficiency is developed, offering students and professionals at every level the critical skills that will set them apart in the job market,” confirms Jane Thomson, MD of Softworx, an Infor partner and the local driver behind the Infor EAP and Belgium Campus collaboration.
“This proficiency will go a long way to bolster candidates’ entry into the market, ensuring that they are ready for the world of work. Skills and work experience are what people lack, but if they are given the opportunity to gain these skills and this experience, they are 80 percent more likely to remain in employment for the rest of their lives.”
Students will gain computer science and business integration skills using Infor Mongoose, an Application Development Platform and Cloudsuite Industrial ERP Solution.
According to Martine Cadet, vice-president,: global enablement at Infor, the global ICT industry is in need of intelligent, bright people that can push the envelope. “For this reason, we focus on the transference of real skills in three steps; learn, demonstrate, and excel.”
The director of the Infor EAP, EMEA, Mark Stewart, adds:”We are very excited to work with the University to support their students with career opportunities at Infor and with its master partner in this region, Softworx. It’s great to be partnering with this leading Institution in South Africa. Belgium Campus has a unique approach and focus in developing top talent to serve the IT industry.
“This alliance adds to this, allowing students to take their knowledge of technology and apply this to a growing demand for digital skills in business. We are proud to be a part of this collaboration, which ultimately is leading to students developing the skills that employers are looking for by creating experiential opportunities for students.”