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Digital skills hackathon seeks solutions to SA’s job crisis

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Digital skills development firm SAtion has collaborated with Microsoft and non-profit tech hub Empire Partner Foundationto host a skills development hackathon this weekend.

Launched in June, SAtion seeks to draw together stakeholders in the private and public sectors − including government, large corporations, SMMEs, industrialists, private investors and educational institutions − to discuss, co-ordinate and implement fourth industrial revolution projects.

The non-profit has an online platform – the SAtion Digital Skills Hub– aimed at providing young South Africans from the ages of eight to 24 with free access to Microsoft Office 365, free digital literacy resources and Microsoft Cloud Society resources.

The hackathon aims to find solutions to help enable disadvantaged young South Africans to access digital learning tools and skills programmes available through enablers to the SAtion ecosystem, like Microsoft and non-profit Afrika Tikkun.

Some of these initiatives are available through Microsoft’s learning paths, and are designed to empower and uplift young people with the digital skills they need to start their own businesses and find work.

In June last year, Microsoft launched its global skills development initiative in collaboration with Afrika Tikkun, aimed at helping to create employment opportunities by training 25 million people worldwide in digital skills.

According to SAtion, local youth face several challenges and constraints to accessing digital skills learning platforms, hindering their ability to benefit from the globally competitive skills and certifications these learning opportunities provide.

“The majority of South African youth lack access to stable, affordable and reliable infrastructure – including electricity and power, basic hardware like computers or tablets, and data,” saysSAtion COO Dimakatso Matshoga.

“These form difficult obstacles which need to be overcome if we are to work towards increasing youth employment, while growing our local economy. We have designed this hackathon to take the first big step towards ensuring the true digital transformation of our economy, by breaking down the barriers that prevent the digital upskilling of our people.”

The SAtion hackathon will require participating teams to design a solution to assist rural youth to access the resources they might need to complete their Microsoft learning paths, thereby increasing their employability.

Cash prizes amount to R30 000, together with an opportunity for the winning team to formally build their own business around the solutions developed.

SAtion hopes this hackathon will be the first of many, in its efforts to help create a globally competitive and digitalised economy in South Africa.

The hackathon will take place on 20 and 21 November, from 08:00 to 16:30, at the Empire Partner Foundation at 35 Ferguson Road, Illovo, Sandton.

Anyone interested in following hackathon event updates can do so via the SAtionwebsite.

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