Johannesburg, 19 Oct 2023
The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), in partnership with the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), will be holding the 2023 Digital and Future Skills National Conference on 26 and 27 October. The conference will be held in the Eastern Cape province at the East London ICC, under the theme: “Realising the digital economy: Scaling up skills development to support innovation”.
The inaugural conference was held in November 2022 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, and the main aim was to create a platform for all relevant parties to collaborate and develop funding models for implementing the National Digital Skills initiative, among others. It proved so successful that it was decided to turn the conference into an annual event. The intention is to ensure that decisions made at the previous conference have a tangible impact and measurable outcomes.
The 2023 Digital and Future Skills National Conference will continue the discussions on how the sector can collaborate and co-ordinate resources to achieve a common purpose. The conference will be a multi-stakeholder engagement platform, with approximately 300 attendees comprising public and private sector representatives, civil society, researchers, youth organisations and young digital entrepreneurs and digital skills training organisations, among others.
The first day of the conference will begin with a keynote address by the Deputy Minister of DCDT, followed by sector specialist deliberations. Representatives from a variety of organisations, including some of the country's leading universities and other education specialists, as well as various youth organisations, businesses such as Amazon, Accenture, Vodacom and Cisco, and governmental departments, will participate in the plenary sessions.
Topics to be covered by the panel discussions include:
- Skills development for the digital economy.
- Digital entrepreneurship and innovation.
- Digital entrepreneurship and funding.
- Research and development.
- Women in the digital economy.
- Digital curriculum in schools.
The second day will feature a continuation of the plenary sessions, as well as seminars and displays. Topics under discussion will include the critical enablers of growth and job creation:
- The future of work readiness.
- Digital disruptions in the labour market.
Speakers at the conference include:
- Hon Mondli Gungubele, Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies
- Hon Mohlopi Phillemon (Philly) Mapulane, Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies
- Charmaine Houvet, Senior Director for Africa at Cisco
- Lerato Shai, Director at the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention
- Nomso Kana, Chief Executive at Simsciex Technologies
- Sandiso Sibisi, Director at COOi Studios
- Dr Sipho Sithole, Jason Stapleton, XR Creative Technologist/VR World Builder at Electric South
- Steven Markovitz, Co-Director of Electric South (New Dimensions Lab)
- Trevor Rammitlwa, CEO of NEMISA
- Darryl Dennis, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Innovation Hub
- Dr Leona Crafett, Director, CoLab for Digital Inclusion and Social Innovation at the University of the Western Cape
The conference will reflect collectively on the issues, factors, gaps and challenges around digital transformation. Announcements on partnership agreements aimed at the implementation of the national digital and future skills programme are expected to come out of the conference, as well as recommendations around practical solutions on how best to target and support the most digitally disadvantaged communities.
Parties to the conference are joining forces to realise improved digital literacy, skills development, matching labour market demands and thus addressing the high youth unemployment rate. The end goal is to build a capable workforce that will be able to assist the country in confronting the challenges arising from the demands of the digital economy while increasing citizens’ adoption of digital technologies.
The adoption of digital transformation and the advent of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and its accompanying technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, virtual reality, blockchain and 3D printing, present both challenges and opportunities for citizens, governments and businesses.
Various sectors of the economy are transformed by and benefit from these digital advancements; access to the prerequisite digital skillsets is proving a challenge because the employment opportunities presented by digital transformation and the digital economy require advanced digital skills. There is also a need for reskilling within the workforce as AI increasingly fulfils repetitive and routine tasks previously performed by humans within organisations.
The South African government released the National Digital and Future Skills Strategy in 2020 to ensure that the country has a well co-ordinated and integrated implementation plan to close the digital skills gap. This programme requires collaboration between government entities, businesses, civil society, academia and youth representatives – not only to transfer skills but also to source funding. The conference will foster collaboration to achieve these goals.
Click here to access more information about the conference.