President Cyril Ramaphosa is part of the Team SA delegation at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Photo source: @PresidencyZA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa says government “will be embarking on a massive drive to train young people in digital skills” and give them necessary learning tools.
Ramaphosa made the comments during a plenary session about Africa’s leadership in the global context at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland taking place this week.
Team SA, made up of the president, other government officials, and leaders of business and labour, is in Davos to offer some views on developments in the country and drive the message that government is open for business.
The theme for this year’s WEF gathering is “Globalisation 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, with the agenda covering topics such as economic policies, human capital, industry systems, cyber security and institutional reform.
While Ramaphosa did not elaborate on timelines or how government will put this plan into action, he stated the initiative is to make sure South African youth are more employable and create more jobs, especially in the context of the fourth industrial revolution.
Government has described youth unemployment as one of the most significant socio-economic challenges facing the country today.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics SA, the percentage of youth aged 15 to 34 who were not in employment, education or training increased from 38.3% to 39% in the third quarter of 2018. This increase, says Stats SA, shows South African youth are still vulnerable in the labour market.
Digital future preparation
Since taking office in February, Ramaphosa and his administration have dedicated attention to the fourth industrial revolution and how to equip citizens with the necessary skills to thrive in a digital society.
Detailing the ANC’s election manifesto earlier this month, the president said young South Africans must have skills for the world of tomorrow.
As a result, he revealed the party will scale up skills development for the youth in areas such as data analytics, Internet of things, blockchain and machine learning.
In the 2018 State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa announced plans to establish a Presidential Digital Industrial Revolution Commission. Pundits described the move as a sign that government is taking steps to ensure capabilities in science, technology and innovation are developed.
Although members are yet to be announced, the commission is expected to co-ordinate the development of SA’s national response through a comprehensive action plan to deal with the fourth industrial revolution.
In his manifesto speech, Ramaphosa reiterated the ANC will “work with stakeholders through the Presidential Digital Industrial Revolution Commission to shape a common digital future that places people at the centre of digital transformation and ensures its benefits are spread across society”.
Deputy communications minister Pinky Kekana looks on as a learner at Louis Trichardt Secondary School in Limpopo uses a computer. (Photo source: GCIS)
Meanwhile, communications deputy minister Pinky Kekana has challenged learners at Louis Trichardt Secondary School to start thinking about developing software and applications that could be used to help improve government services.
As part of a broadband rollout project, the communications ministry, this week, visited Limpopo’s Vhembe district to connect four public facilities and provide ICT equipment to three schools.
The learning institutions are Eric Louw High School, Bonwa Udi Primary School and Louis Trichardt Secondary School.
Highlighting the shortage of software developers in the country, Kekana encouraged learners at Louis Trichardt to become the next generation of developers.
“Once we start to digitise some of the education programmes, it will become easier for you to learn, understand and improve your work at school.”
The deputy minister added that through connectivity, government wants to improve school performance.