VIDEO: Forge Academy powers up next 4IR lab

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 04 Sept 2023

Having recently unveiled a new fourth industrial revolution (4IR) laboratory in Northriding, Johannesburg, Forge Academy & Labs is now looking to absorb more local students to be part of South Africa’s ICT jobs pipeline.

This is according to newly-appointed COO Tariq Shurmah, speaking to ITWeb TV about the training academy’s future plans now that it has a second location.

“The reason we moved to Northriding is for bigger premises and to be able to take on more learners. With the likes of the Gauteng City Regional Academy, we’ve been able to up the stipends that we offer to our learners as well.

“We had to move to bigger premises…to showcase our technology that we offer and get in more learners that will be sitting in our building, and provide a lot more space to work with and move South Africa to a better technologically-inclined environment,” notes Shurmah.

Upskilling and developing SA’s ICT skills pipeline has become a top priority for many public and private sector organisations.

Powered by Finnish telecoms giant Nokia, Forge Academy is the brainchild of social entrepreneurs Arthur Wade Anderson and Craig Clutty.

It officially opened at Fourways Gantry in 2020, proclaiming itself as SA’s “Harvard for 4IR”, with a focus on technology and innovation, as well as upskilling unemployed and underemployed youth.

According to Forge Academy, its new Northriding facility includes lecture rooms, offices and floor space, with the latest tech for students to experience. The facility looks to equip students for participation, employment and entrepreneurship in the 4IR.

At the new facility, Forge Academy has increased its staff complement, growing from nine to 35 people, according to Shurmah.

He notes that both facilities – Fourways Gantry and Northriding – showcase the technologies on offer at the academy and offer a spacious environment to work in.

Tariq Shurmah, COO of Forge Academy & Labs.
Tariq Shurmah, COO of Forge Academy & Labs.

“Our training is open to the majority of South Africans. We focus our training on the 4IR and the enablers of 4IR, including 5G, cloud computing, next-generation computing, robotics, 3D printing, drone technology and digital marketing.

“The learners that come through our organisation not only get a local qualification but also international certification. We’re living in a world where technology runs the global market.”

He says the company is striving to reduce the digital divide in South Africa and the African market as a whole.

“We believe we are an organisation that uplifts and upskills individuals for the working environment, to have a sustainable and long career path ahead of them.”

“We have grown in leaps and bounds since opening our first venue in 2020. This [new centre] signals our growing contribution to youth development and digital transformation in SA and Africa. We are proud of this milestone and our dedicated students' unwavering pursuit of learning and growing,” comments Clutty.

Anderson adds: “With students receiving qualifications through our Forge Academy & Labs training programmes, we have produced coders, AWS [Amazon Web Services] practitioners, entrepreneurs, marketers and well-rounded, employable candidates fit for the future marketplaces of the world.”

The Forge Academy COO adds Forge has adopted a hybrid way of learning and will run programmes throughout SA.

“Our facilitators sit at our Northriding building and facilitate learning to Saldanha Bay, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Marikana. We’ll also be launching a programme in Vryburg and Kanana in the North West very soon.”

At Northriding, the learners come in most of the time but have the opportunity to work from home as well. “We’re working in a technological environment, and the one thing that COVID-19 taught us is how to work remotely. We’ve adopted a cloud way of remote learning and remote working.”

Click here to view the video.