Vodacom Foundation, Google to advance SA’s 4IR preparedness

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The Vodacom Foundation and Google SA have announced a joint-venture that aims to equip young South Africans with the necessary digital skills required to answer to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

The next era of the digital revolution calls on the future workforce to have specialised skills. Therefore, government and private sector players have ramped efforts to address the country’s digital skills gap.

According to the Vodacom Foundation, the partnership will help to address some of the anxieties the youth have on the impact of 4IR on society, especially future jobs.

It further states the collaboration with Google, through the “Grow with Google” programme, will connect community members to the Vodacom Foundation’s 92 teacher technology centres, which will now include Google’s resources and skills development programmes.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, chief officer of corporate affairs at Vodacom, says: “South Africa is at the dawning of a digital revolution that will reshape the way we work, the way we live and the way we relate to each other. This fourth industrial revolution is characterised by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”

Netshitenzhe adds: “Given where South Africa finds itself right now, there is a pressing need to forge increasingly meaningful partnerships to deepen and accelerate the impact of our collective programmes and help to move South Africa forward.

“This collaboration with Google will offer transformative benefits for people, connecting them to digital channels to access education platforms, skills and employment opportunities as well as support their good health and wellbeing.”

The “Grow with Google” initiative helps people obtain the digital skills they need to find a job. Course programmes are tailored for job-seekers and students, teachers, small business owners, developers and start-ups.

To date, over three million people have been trained through the programme.

Asha Patel, head of marketing at Google SA, says: “If our youth have the right skills, they are prepared for future jobs, can build businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth across the continent. We aim to equip millions of South Africans with digital skills and tools to help them build an online presence, create content, understand Web design and user experience, social media and app development. It is through this collaboration with the Vodacom Foundation that this goal can be achieved.”

Feminine focus

Meanwhile, UN Women and HP have signed a memorandum of understanding to expand digital learning opportunities for women and girls in Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Morocco.

In a statement, the organisations say the new collaboration builds on the existing model of partnership in Mexico, where equipment and entrepreneurial online learning courses are offered in digital classrooms to more than 5 000 women under UN Women’s Second Chance Education Initiative, with financial support from BHP Foundation. 

The partnership will also leverage UN Women’s African Girls Can Code initiative, a joint programme of the African Union Commission, UN Women and the International Telecommunication Union.

“Education is a fundamental human right that should be available regardless of a person’s gender, class, race or location,” says Elisabeth Moreno, VP and MD of HP Africa. “To that end, HP has pledged to enable better learning outcomes for 100 million people by 2025 – a commitment that aligns with the fourth goal of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: Quality Education. 

“As the world wakes up to the power of women, HP is partnering with UN Women to embrace the power of education and job training to reinvent mindsets, promote careers in technology, and drive systemic change.”

UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka adds: “Today, over 131 million girls are out of school, and half a billion women are illiterate. We see an urgent need to enable girls and women to gain digital literacy and become economically self-reliant.

“Bringing together civil society, public and private sectors, and most importantly, women and their communities, UN Women is seeking to break current trends by creating global solutions and scalable models.”

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