ICT programme to address SA's tech skills shortage

Monday, March 23, 2009

Pretoria - The Department of Communications has launched a new Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programme to address the country's ICT skills shortage.

The National e-Skills Dialogue Initiative (Ne-SDI) which will be implemented by the Meraka e-Skills Institute (Me-SI) will produce workplace-ready ICT graduates.

Speaking at the launch on Monday, the department's Acting Director-General Greda Grabe said the Ne-SDI will provide and promote leadership in the area of e-skills development in the country.

"It will directly impact on the quality of teaching at the institute as well as the workplace readiness of students."

The programme will focus on different categories of e-skills such as ICT practitioner skills, ICT user skills, e-business skills and e-literacy, with a special focus on the social appropriation of ICTs.

The Ne-SDI will eventually become a faculty within the institute that will collaborate with all the role-players to ensure ICT skills training are aligned with market expectations.

It will also focus on development skills certification, matching workers with jobs, support for career learning and skills frameworks and definitions.

The institutes' Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Harold Wasso said through the Ne-SDI, the institute will provide diversified, unique e-Skills education and training programmes.

"It will play a leading role by orchestrating the various existing and new initiatives concerned with e-Skills and undertaking an advocacy role," he said.

To address the ICT skills challenges in the country, Me-SI formerly known as the African Advanced Institute of ICT was created under the auspices of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Science and Technology.

In South Africa, although there is disagreement on the actual numbers, there is unanimous agreement that there are skills shortages within the ICT sector.

The Government's Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) is focused on fast tracking the cultivation of 11 sets of priority skills, including the ICT skills, and has identified a number of bottlenecks in the skills pipeline, which needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency