Microsoft South Africa has provided a $150 000 (over R2,5-million) grant to Afrika Tikkun as part of a strategic partnership linked to its Global Skills Initiative to pass on critical digital skills to 25-million people worldwide by the end of the year.
In the three months since its launch, the initiative has reached 10 million engaged learners in 231 countries – and more than 83 000 in South Africa. So far, Software Developer, Customer Service Specialist, and Data Analyst have emerged as the most popular and in-demand learning paths.
The initiative aims to bring new digital skills to underserved populations and reskill workers impacted by COVID-19 and the economic crisis it precipitated. Unemployment is a widespread challenge in South Africa, hitting 30,1% in the first quarter of 2020 and steadily rising because of the impact of the pandemic. The latest statistics show that the economy shed a further 2,2-million jobs in the second quarter, with the expanded unemployment rate rising to 42%.
“Hardest hit has been young people, particularly in poorer and more remote areas,” says Onyinye Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services.
This is why Microsoft South Africa committed to working with strategic long-term partner non-profits like Afrika Tikkun to drive the programme and assist the people who need it most to reskill and pursue an in-demand job using resources from LinkedIn, Microsoft and GitHub.
Afrika Tikkun helps young people from underserved South African communities through its holistic cradle-to-career model which includes skills development and work readiness programmes – while also helping meet nutrition, health and social needs.
The grant will enable Afrika Tikkun to focus on:
* Recruiting jobseekers to be reskilled and positioned to access opportunities in the job economy.
* Assessing recruited jobseekers, identifying and implementing the most appropriate learning pathways to follow based on their existing skillset and the most in-demand skills and jobs in South Africa identified through data and analytics.
* Providing free access to curated learning pathways for in-demand roles within the economy across LinkedIn Learning, GitHub and Microsoft Learn.
* Supporting and incentivising as many job seekers as possible to achieve certifications by completing various exams offered on the digital platforms.
* Sourcing work experience and job placement opportunities and providing employability tools and connections to jobs offered, including connections to work-based learning, coaching and mentoring.
* Providing post-placement support through the organisation’s alumni network between September 2020 and 31 March 2021.
These goals come with ambitious targets. Afrika Tikkun aims to recruit 50 000 jobseekers into the Global Skills Initiative programme; assess 14 500 to determine the best learning pathway for them and support and incentivise them to access and complete at least one learning pathway while enabling the remaining jobseekers to benefit from selecting and following their learning pathways on their own; enrol 1 000 for formal certification and help 500 get formally certified; assist 500 land a job, work experience or economic opportunity and help 50 become entrepreneurs.
Key to being able to reach these targets is harnessing the power of partnerships. “Partnering to bring together resources that reimagine how people learn and apply new skills to prepare for the workplace of the future, as well as create opportunities to equip unemployed South Africans with much-needed digital skills is a priority for Microsoft,” says Siya Madyibi, legal and corporate affairs director at Microsoft South Africa.
This is why Microsoft is also partnering with corporate companies and customers, who have committed to make training labs with connectivity available to jobseekers, co-fund some Microsoft certifications and market the programme on their social media channels to raise awareness.
“Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is too significant of a challenge for any one organisation to tackle in isolation. It requires a collective effort from civil society, corporates and government, and this integrated Global Skills Initiative provides the scope and leverage to make a difference,” says Marc Lubner, group CEO of Africa Tikkun.
“Afrika Tikkun is already committed to integrating such stakeholders to optimize outcomes impacting youth employment.”
Unemployed individuals interested in accessing critical digital skills can register for the programme on Afrika Tikkun’s website or learn more on the Microsoft microsite. Microsoft is offering its certification exams at a significantly discounted fee until the end of the year, and participants have until 31 March 2021 to complete the exam. All of the resources for the Global Skills Initiative are also available at www.aka.ms/jobseeker