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R800M TO FUND WORKPLACE DIGITAL READINESS UPSKILLING

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba | 10 February 2023


The National Skills Fund (NSF) will provide R800 million towards skills development in the digital and technology sector, through a model that links payment for training to employment outcomes.


This, in an effort to strengthen the link between the skills developed and the skills the workplace needs, according to president Cyril Ramaphosa.


Ramaphosa delivered his 2023 State of the Nation Address (SONA) last night, following disruptions from members of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who were ultimately kicked out of the National Assembly.


The president’s address was also clouded by the major socio-economic and basic service delivery challenges the country faces, with the power crisis, high unemployment and an ailing economy at the top of citizens’ concerns.


Last night, the president noted the most effective and sustainable way to build an economy is to equip people with the skills and know-how to drive it.


As a result, he stated. “We reiterate our call to companies, government departments and state-owned enterprises to remove the requirement for work experience for young people seeking entry-level positions.”


An entity of the Department of Higher Education and Training, the NSF provides funding for national skills development initiatives that are identified by the National Skills Development Plan 2030 as national priorities, or are related to the achievement of the Skills Development Act 97 of 1998.


The NSF’s funding focus and skills development portfolio is two-pronged. First, a significant allocation of its annual and medium-term budget is aimed towards education and training initiatives such as bursaries and scholarships, learnership and skills programmes, and workplace-based learning.


Secondly, NSF funding is aimed at improving the post-school, education and training system, with a focus on capacity-building, investing in skills infrastructure, research and innovation.


With a rising unemployment rate, especially among young people, there is increased focus on addressing SA’s technological and skillset shortcomings by upskilling youth.

One of the key findings of the South Africa ICT Talent Development White Papershows the country’s digital skills gap and demand for ICT talent continue to be inhibiting factors to the growth of the economy.


Furthermore, the 2022 JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey shows South African organisations are recruiting outside the country’s borders for technologically- and digitally-skilled talent.


Ramaphosa indicated that last year, government said it would place over 10 000 TVET college graduates in employment.


“We have surpassed that figure and have now set a target for 2023 of 20 000 TVET to be placed in employment,” he stated. “The number of students entering artisan training in TVET colleges will be increased from 17 000 to 30 000 in the 2023 academic year.”


According to Ramaphosa, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has appointed the first cohort of 10 000 unemployed young people.


The young people have been employed to digitise more than 340 million paper-based civic records, with efforts to enhance their skills, as they contribute to the modernisation of citizen services.


The DHA’s recruitment project is part of the Presidential Employment Stimulus programme.


The president further noted there are now more than three million users registered on SAYouth.mobi, a zero-rated online platform for young South Africans to access opportunities for learning and earning.


“This has been done in close collaboration with the National Youth Development Agency, which continues to provide valuable assistance to young entrepreneurs and work-seekers.”


In addition, the Presidential Employment Stimulus is supporting people to earn their own living, he stated.


“Around 140 000 small-scale farmers have received input vouchers to buy seeds, fertiliser and equipment, providing a boost for food security and agricultural reform.


“This initiative has led to the cultivation of some 640 000 hectares of land. An impressive 68% of these farmers are women. This year, we aim to provide 250 000 more vouchers to small-scale farmers.”


‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.



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