VIDEO: MICT SETA ushers young women into fibre optics

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 21 Jul 2023

The Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) plans to train 100 young women to become fibre optics technicians this year.

This was the word from Gugu Sema, senior manager of 4IR, in an ITWeb TV interview.

According to Sema, every unemployed South African youth should be exposed to future skills, such as fibre installation.

“It is a skill that we want most youth to be exposed to and to be trained in,” she said.

The MICT SETA says it plays a pivotal role in achieving South Africa’s skills development and economic growth within the sub-sectors in which it operates: advertising, film and electronic media, electronics, information technology and telecommunications.

The 12-month Fibre Optic Programme (FOP), which kicked off four years ago, had its most recent graduate class last month, with 20 young female beneficiaries trained in fibre optics.

According to Sema, there are also plans to start equipping the young women with 5G technology skills.

The fibre optics programme currently has its newest batch of 25 students, who are taught via technical hands-on training on fibre optics technology and fibre optic installation workflow processes.

MICT SETA enables young women to become fibre optics technicians.
MICT SETA enables young women to become fibre optics technicians.

The students also participate in a work readiness programme, which helps them understand the different behaviours in a typical fibre installation company and how to conduct themselves in the workplace.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and fibre network operator Herotel are among the companies that have provided FOP participants with practical work experience.

The MICT SETA introduced FOP after recognising a lack of skills for women in the tech space. It is part of the organisation’s fourth industrial revolution department, which Sema said “has a mission to close the skills gap in the ICT sector”.

“When we try and bridge the gap in the ICT sector, we need to ensure we prioritise women. We upskill them; we expose them to these different occupations that were previously male-dominated.”

The initiative was implemented in partnership with Digital Council Africa (DCA) and Signa Academy.

DCA training and special projects manager Sipho Makhalema noted: “It would make a good difference if we train the women, especially women from the townships, to assist them in getting into fibre installation and help them understand the benefits they will get in this industry.”

Sipho Makhalema (Digital Council Africa), Oamogetswe Chikwado (beneficiary), Gugu Sema (MICT SETA) and Ntswaki Matai (beneficiary). (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)
Sipho Makhalema (Digital Council Africa), Oamogetswe Chikwado (beneficiary), Gugu Sema (MICT SETA) and Ntswaki Matai (beneficiary). (Photograph by Lesley Moyo)

To get into the programme, interested candidates need grade 12, a good attitude and an interest in the tech space, according to Sema.

One of the beneficiaries, Oamogetswe Chikwado, commented that the programme has shown her there is space for women in the fibre optic space.

“We are speaking tech language now, and we are the pioneers of the 4IR. I think my role is to be a role model for young girls who want to be in the industry,” said Chikwado.

As to where the MICT SETA sees the project going in the future, Sema said it is humbling to see the work manifesting.

“We wrote the strategy about every young South African being exposed to future skills, and four years later, we see that happening. This is a great testament to the work we do and we want to do more.”

Click here to watch the video.