South Africa pushes ‘e-skills’

27 August 2007

The South African government is to establish a council to oversee the development of “e-skills” in the country, while a number of leading local and international IT companies are to set up new training centres in SA, it was announced on the weekend.

Speaking to journalists after meeting with an advisory council on information society and development in Kwazulu-Natal, President Thabo Mbeki said that improving South Africa’s information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure would be futile if people did not possess the necessary skill to use the technology.

The new e-skills council, comprising members of government, business and academia, would “very rapidly” drive the process of improving ICT skills in the country, Mbeki said.

Mbeki, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri were among those who attended the latest meeting of the council, set up to advise the government on ICT trends and ways of encouraging economic development.

At the meeting, a number of corporations outlined their plans for contribute to skills development in South Africa.

Hewlett Packard (HP) announced a R150-million initiative, dubbed the HP Business Institute, designed to provide subsidised training to small black-owned ICT companies.

Ken Willett, MD of HP Middle East, Mediterranean and Africa, said the institute would provide its students with comprehensive training, including not only traditional IT-related training but also general business training in areas such as marketing communications and business management.

Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle also announced proposals for the launch of centres to provide ICT training and job placement.

Oracle said that, according to industry statistics, the demand for skills in South Africa’s ICT sector – which currently employs approximately 200 000 people – would exceed the supply by as much as 24% by 2009.

“The skills shortage in the manufacturing sector alone will lag by 14 000 ICT specialists in 2010,” the company said in statement.

SouthAfrica.info reporter and BuaNews

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