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Technology News | 3 June 2024

We’re living at a time when technology has the power to transform society. The digital age therefore presents a range of opportunities for South Africa’s youth.

A recent study by the Oxford Internet Institute reveals that internet access and use are consistently associated with positive wellbeing. This data underscores the importance of equipping our youth with digital skills and tools.

With the government’s commitment to supporting the digital economy through strategic platforms like the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Project, it is crucial that we foster an environment conducive to learning and innovation.

The private sector plays a pivotal role in this regard, training and upskilling young people for the digital economy. But it’s not enough to create a competent workforce; it’s also about empowering our youth to leverage technology to build a better world.

One initiative that embodies this ethos is Telkom’s Centres of Excellence (CoE). A post-graduate research programme, CoE encourages young scientists and engineers to develop high-level ICT skills while also bolstering South Africa’s competitiveness on the global stage.

To date, the programme has invested more than R408 million in technical skills development, producing more than 3 560 masters and doctoral degrees in engineering and computer science.

We also recognise the transformative power of entrepreneurship. Through our Telkom FutureMakers Programme, Telkom supports social entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities.

One notable aspect of this programme is the Township Innovation Incubator, which aims to nurture township SMMEs that are using ICT innovation to address community challenges. This initiative seeks to level the playing field, providing young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to turn their business ideas into reality.

But empowerment goes beyond skill-building programmes and career-development resources. It requires a solid educational foundation.

The Telkom Foundation, established in 1998, is committed to investing in education as a means to effect meaningful change in South Africa’s communities.

Through the Telkom Foundation, learners are supported from Grade 8 through to university, particularly in fields like computer science and engineering. This long-term investment in education has yielded impressive results.

Recently, out of 4 000+ matriculants from Telkom Foundation schools, 870 achieved distinctions, with about 39 scoring between four and seven distinctions, mainly in maths and science.

These initiatives demonstrate a concerted effort to empower our youth and prepare them for the future. They provide a blueprint for how businesses can contribute to societal transformation, particularly in the digital economy.

However, the responsibility does not lie solely with the private sector. It requires a collective effort from all stakeholders – government, educators, parents, and the youth themselves.

We must all rally behind our young people, supporting their endeavours and nurturing their potential. While the challenges faced by today’s youth are daunting, there are ample opportunities for growth and development.

Through educational opportunities, skill-building programmes, and career development resources, we can equip our youth with the tools they need to thrive in the digital age.

And in doing so, we are not just investing in their future; we are investing in the future of South Africa.

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


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