Thousands of unemployed young South Africans will soon be doing IT work in clinics, schools and hospitals thanks to the Department of Communications’ new e-Cadre training programme, launched on 20 October.
The programme, launched in Rustenburg, North West province, will train some 5 000 jobless matriculants aged 18 to 30, from both rural areas and townships, in information and communication technology (ICT). It has been developed in partnership with the department, the National Youth Service Programme and 15 Further Education and Training (FET) colleges.
“The programme is a multi-pronged approach that combines the delivery of information and communication technology skills training and life orientation to young people so that they acquire skills in the field of ICT,” said communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda at the launch.
The programme will not only give young people valuable skills, it will also help improve the delivery of essential services to local communities, using ICT. Graduates will therefore be given the name “e-Cadres”.
“This puts them in a better position to act as conduits to their communities to access government services and programmes through the use of ICTs,” Nyanda said. The e-Cadres, he said, will “work with government in addressing the many challenges facing our people”. The e-Cadre initiative, he said, was one of the department’s “dashboard priority” programmes.
On graduation these e-Cadres will work with various forms of digital technology in government institutions such as clinics, schools, police stations, local municipality offices and post offices.
“We believe that ICTs can create greater access to opportunities, redress inequalities [an] improve the quality of teaching and learning,” Nyanda said. He added that the e-Cadres must show “commitment, dedication and professionalism” when working as public servants.
Some R8-million (US$1.1-million) has already been spent on the programme; the department has committed further funds for deploying graduates into their new public service positions.
So far, the department has already deployed 765 matriculants who earned their International Computer Driving Licence at FET colleges as e-Cadres, as well as 350 ICT graduates.
The department wants to use the project to address “one of the key challenges facing South Africa, the creation of skilled personnel to respond to the human resource needs our thriving economy requires, especially in the ICT sector,” the minister said.
“Our success will be measured on our ability to ensure that the participants acquire a set of key skills that would enable them to contribute towards the growth of our economy in general and the ICT industry in particular.”
He added that FET colleges are already making an impact by producing graduates of a high quality, as well as “establishing closer partnerships with prospective employers and sector education and training authorities”.
At the launch, Nyanda announced that the Department of Communications is in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy on providing ICT skills to South Africa’s youth. The strategy will provide guidelines to the government, state-owned enterprises and the ICT sector on ways technology can be used for youth development.
The strategy, is expected to be finalised by end 2009, will be launched in the first quarter of 2010.