Kathy Gibson is at Huawei in Woodmead – Huawei and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) are partnering to offer free online and onsite training in 5G and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies.

The announcement is the result of a commitment made by the IT and telecommunications giant and the department last year, when they committed to building an ICT talent ecosystems to support South Africa’s digital transformation.

The new training initiative targets 6 000 learners, who are either post-graduate ICT students or already working in the industry.

It was launched this morning at the joint DCDT annual Seeds for the Future send-off ceremony, which sees 10 university students from various institutions across South Africa depart on a study trip to in China.

DCDT Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams comments: “Through multilateral engagements such as in BRICS, South Africa has resolved to cooperate at various levels including capacity building, skills development and research.

“The Seeds of the Future programme, which focuses on critical 4IR-related skills, is therefore an important opportunity to expose ICT students to Huawei’s world-class research and training facilities in China.”

She urges students to become the new heroes, driving economic freedom for this generation and going forward. “The fight for a better place starts with you.”

The programme, now in its fourth year, aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice and to develop local ICT talent through knowledge transfer and hands-on experience.

To qualify for the Seeds for the Future programme, students must be majoring in an ICT subject, attaining an average of at least 70%.

Huawei CEO Spawn Fan says that Huawai is finalising its talent development strategy for 4IR-SA to contribute to Ndabeni-Abraham’s goal of bringing ICT training to 1-million people by 2030.

“We cannot forget the key factor for a digital society is a large number of technical staff who can address the challenges of digital transformation,” he says.

“We recently launched a free 5G training course at the University of Pretoria, Wits University and University of Johannesburg, and plan to take that to more institutions,” he says. “We are now partnering with the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies to deliver a 5G and 4IR online training platform with an accredited certification for 5 000 ICT students and professionals in South Africa. We also aim to train a further 1 000 students in our on-site programme.”

Fan points out that 4IR is a focus area in South Africa. “We are working with various government department to promote 4IR in industry.”

He adds that 2019 has been a challenging year for Huawei, but the company is still achieving 20% year-on-year growth. “And we can forecast steady growth for the year ahead.”

Talking to the Seeds for the Future students, Fan says it is important to bridge the gap between theory and practice. “We believe practical is of more value. Only with practice will you make your career successful.”

Minister Ndabeni Abrahams concludes: “The department has adopted the theme ‘Co-ordinate, Collaborate, Execute 4IR’. At the heart of the 4IR conversation, is a people-centered response that speaks to jobs, skills and broad economic participation. Accordingly, we have developed initiatives such as the ‘Building a Capable 4IR Army’ programme to ensure that our communities, especially the youth, are equipped to take advantage of new digital technologies, unlock future jobs and drive competitiveness.”