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Afrika Tikkun, MS team up to upskill 50K SA job-seekers

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Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services.
Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services.

Microsoft South Africa has committed a $150 000 grant (over R2.5 million) to non-profit Afrika Tikkun as part of a strategic partnership programme for its Global Skills Initiative, aimed at providing critical digital skills to 50 000 South Africans.

In July, Microsoft launched a global skills development initiative, aimed at helping to create employment opportunities, with a mission to train 25 million people across the globe in digital skills by the end of 2021. The announcement came in the wake of the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left scores of people unemployed.

In the four months since its launch, the initiative has reached 10 million engaged learners in 231 countries – and thousands more in SA.

Unemployment is a widespread challenge in SA, hitting 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020 and steadily rising because of the impact of the pandemic. The latest statistics show the economy shed a further 2.2 million jobs in the second quarter, with the unemployment rate rising to 42%.

Microsoft SA says its commitment is part of the tech giant’s strategic long-term vision to partner with non-profits like Afrika Tikkun to drive the programme locally and assist the people who need it most to re-skill and pursue in-demand jobs using resources from LinkedIn, Microsoft and e-learning platform GitHub.

The learning resources can all be accessed at a central location on opportunity.linkedin.com, and will be broadly available online across countries.

The courses offered include software development, IT administration, IT support/helpdesk, data analytics and graphic design, as well as customer service specialist – which have emerged as among the most popular and in-demand learning paths.

“In South Africa, we aim to recruit at least 50 000 unemployed, unskilled, under-skilled and economically marginalised individuals, including youths, and set them up for life so they can take part in the growing digital economy,” says Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services (ATS), Johannesburg-based recruitment, placement and training company specialised in corporate transformation.

“Microsoft and Afrika Tikkun have played a strategic role in delivering this initiative. Microsoft, leveraging its LinkedIn economic graph to determine what the in-demand roles are in SA, and our organisation’s role is to mobilise unemployed people in SA to participate in the initiative and create facilities, platforms and awareness to make sure those who need these skills are supported to achieve a global certification and that they find a job upon completion.”

Afrika Tikkun was founded in 1994 with the goal of developing and uplifting young people in underprivileged communities in SA. The organisation works to end child poverty and youth unemployment by implementing what it calls a “cradle-to-career 360° model”.

Nwaneri says Afrika Tikkun got involved in the Global Skills Initiative as it aligns with its “development model which empowers disadvantaged South Africans from the age of two until they are independent and employed adults with education, core and technical skills, and employment or self-employment – while helping to meet their nutrition, health and social needs.”

When looking at SA’s most pressing socio-economic problems, unemployment – particularly among youths – is one of the most urgent issues, according to the organisation.

The South African government estimates that 58% of 15- to 24-year-olds are not in jobs, education, or being trained, and digital skills, which are in high demand in SA, can play an important role in job creation.

“Of the 50 000 recruits of the local leg of the Global Skills Initiative, 20 000 will go to the next round, in which ATS will determine their best learning pathway and support them to access and complete at least one of the many courses available.”

The remaining candidates will benefit from selecting and following their learning pathways on their own, according to the organisation.

“We are also offering to pay for or reimburse 1 500 unemployed people to complete Microsoft vendor-certified exams in three technical pathways – software developer, data analyst and network administrator. We will help a minimum of 500 find jobs or work experience placements, and assist 50 entrepreneurs,”Nwaneri says.

Interested individuals can register on the Global Skills Initiative Web site. Each applicant’s needs, interests and aspirations will be assessed, allowing them to be channelled to the correct learning pathway.

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