As societies around the world become increasingly interconnected and dependent on digital technologies, there is a growing need for better levels of digital literacy.

This is the word from Mondli Gungubele, minister of communications and digital technologies, speaking at the launch of the National Digital Skills Forum (DSF).

“South Africa’s ability to expand economically and remain competitive globally depends on its ability to develop massive digital skills programmes which are vital components of human capacity,” he says.

To this end, he says his department developed the National Digital and Future Skills Strategy, based on an assessment of the digital skills gaps that exist in the country and those necessary in the future.

“This strategy provides a guide for the development of professional and societal digital skills required for the country’s advancement as a digital economy. It also seeks to ensure that the citizens can benefit from enhanced levels of digital skills, leading to an improved quality of life, education, greater economic growth, and creation of new jobs.”

The DSF aims to bring together the necessary expertise, financial resources and institutional support as well as to track the performance of the National Digital Skills Programme. The work of the DSF will be based on specific focus areas identified in the National Digital and Future Skills Strategy, Gungubele says.

The forum will lead, oversee and coordinate the implementation of the national digital skills programme.

A critical function of the DSF is to provide strategic direction to the implementation of the programme, prioritise and coordinate areas of focus, mobilise resources in the form of expertise, funding and institutional support, and monitor performance.

The DSF will also advise on the reconceptualisation and structuring of the digital skills development ecosystem in support of digital skills building.

It should link into the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), given its advisory role on human resource development of the country, and will provide technical digital skills support to the broader work of the HRDC and ensure a coordinated implementation of the digital skills programme.