7 June 2013
Microsoft South Africa has partnered with the government’s Jobs Fund to train more than 3 000 unemployed graduates to enable them to get permanent jobs in the country’s technology sector over the next three years.
The students will sign 12-month internship contracts under the Jobs Fund banner, with a target of having at least 75% of them employed in full-time jobs by the end of their training.
Launching the initiative in Johannesburg on Thursday, Jean-Phillippe Courtois, the president of Microsoft International, said the initiative would dramatically expand Microsoft’s existing skills development programmes through funding from the Jobs Fund and the company’s own 4Afrika initiative.
“The government’s top priority is to get young South Africans working. As a company, we have long invested in South Africa, and understand the need for us all to continue to develop solutions to this challenge,” Courtois said in a statement.
“We remain committed to helping address the issue of youth unemployment, as we cannot let an entire generation of young people become long-term unemployed.”
Patrick Dlamini, chief executive of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which administers the Jobs Fund, hailed the partnership as a breakthrough in creating jobs in South Africa’s IT sector.
“We’ve been extremely encouraged by the way the private sector has risen to the challenge of helping create jobs in South Africa,” Dlamini said. “Indeed, these types of partnerships between the private and public sector will be significant contributors to the more than 100 524 new permanent jobs which our current portfolio of approved projects aims to create by 2015.
“These projects will also place another 56 194 unemployed people in vacant positions.”
The R9-billion Jobs Fund was announced by President Jacob Zuma in 2011 with the aim of finding innovative solutions to South Africa’s employment problem.
To date, the Fund has approved grant funding of more than R3.4-billion, of which more than R1.2-billion has been allocated to private sector-led initiatives. This R1.2-billion has been matched by a further R1.576-billion in funding raised by the private sector.
Mteto Nyati, Microsoft South Africa’s managing director, said youth unemployment was “one of the biggest threats and challenges facing South Africa today”. It is estimated that 25% of all South Africans are unemployed – of which 70% are young people.
The new initiative will seek to triple the training outreach programmes undertaken by Microsoft in the past.
Nyati said that while Microsoft’s Student2Business initiative, in conjunction with government agencies, had already trained more than 6 500 unemployed graduates and placed more than 75% in permanent positions, efforts to empower the country’s youth needed to be accelerated dramatically.
“South Africa is essentially a nation of young people – and the high level of youth unemployment threatens the very stability of the country,” Nyati said. “We aim to positively impact the lives of thousands of young people over the next three years, helping to close the opportunity divide by giving them access to technology and skills which will help them get on the pathway to work.”