17 March 2008
The newly inaugurated e-Skills Academy of South Africa will increase the country’s information and communication technology (ICT) systems and increase the public’s awareness in the area, President Thabo Mbeki said at its launch in Sandton last week.
“This academy should also help in our ongoing efforts to extend ICT access to all our people as a catalyst to lift the poor out of poverty,” Mbeki said, adding that it had an important role to play as it involved developing the skills of the country’s youngsters.
The e-Skills Academy is aimed at accelerating the development of professional qualifications and “job-ready” skills in the ICT sector, offering internationally accredited courses and certified qualifications that are designed to meet requirements defined by both private and public sector technology users.
Mbeki said he was inspired by the academy’s efforts to impart skills “in a manner that recognises the importance of world-class quality and standards”, and its commitment to providing highly personalised services to students.
The facilitation of bursaries and study grants, development of personal skills in key areas such as business and leadership, and programmes aimed at the placement of graduates in rewarding jobs would go a long way towards empowering students, he added.
The academy opened its doors in January, four months after being announced at a Presidential International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development in August last year.
The academy stood out as a confirmation of the possibility of building effective international partnerships, Mbeki said.
“As South Africans, we are very proud indeed that we have a possibility to be part of an important initiative which communicates what can and should be done to respond to some of the challenges of globalisation.”
He pointed out that one such challenge facing South Africa was the intense competition with regard to skilled workers.
“Accordingly, it is important to train as large a number of skilled workers as possible, so that, even in the event of migration of skills to developed countries, the developing countries will themselves be able to maintain a competitive edge.”