Bridging the digital skills gap to improve employment prospects for Youth

The Digital Skills for Jobs and Income (DS4JI) project aims to improve the employment prospects of young people in South Africa through digital skilling, reskilling, and upskilling.

In doing so, the DS4JI supported the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies (DCDT) to host the National Digital and Future Skills Conference from 22-23 November 2022 in the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. The theme for the national conference was “Digital Skills: A cornerstone for a digital economy”.

The National Digital and Future Skills Conference was the first of its kind to be hosted by DCDT. The conference builds on the DCDT’s National Digital and Future Skills Strategy, which promotes a vision of having a “South Africa in which people, economy and society benefit from enhanced levels of digital skills as we move into a digital future, anchored in agility, creativity and problem-solving.” The conference focused on facilitating topics of discussion on the impact of digital skills on digitization, innovative solutions for digital skilling, and skills initiatives for women and girls.

The DS4JI had an opportunity to facilitate two side events. The first event featured the work done by the project, with an emphasis on Women4Tech. It highlighted the #eSkills4Girls network which is one of the key drivers that promotes women and young girls. The event included the importance of providing work readiness and mentorship geared especially towards the needs of women in a male driven industry.

In this event we achieved one of our objectives by establishing a new cooperation format/ working group, to motivate stakeholders to participate in further virtual exchanges.  And to map out active players, and interventions on women in ICT/ digital skilling in South Africa to focus on the digital skills demand for young women. The working group will be set up and coordinated by the DS4JI project. The group would comprise of stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, academia, government, and international development cooperation organizations. The WG will be start in 2023.

The second event focused on the on Digital Transformation Readiness of Public TVET Colleges in South Africa. We presented the findings on the Digital Transformation Readiness Assessment conducted at TVET Colleges and facilitated discussion on how to improve digital readiness for TVET colleges.

The event was attended by over 30 participants from civil society, academia, government, and international development cooperation as well as local organizations. Some of the key outcomes of these discussion led to potential new partnerships such as the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) looking to work together on Educator training and will supplement GIZ with the Lecturer Development Programme. The National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) and Animation South Africa (ASA) will work together on digitising/animating some of their content.

The National Digital and Future Skills Conference was a massive success for DS4JI and the #eSkills4Girls initiative. The conference highlighted the work done in the digital skills space, especially with a focus on promoting youth employment. It enabled the project to show case the work done thus far and to foster networks for further collaboration.