Microsoft and the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) have teamed up to invest R290m in the software firm’s training program for youngsters, and the firm says that the money will be used to put 3 000 people in work over the next three years.
Half of the money will be coming from Microsoft’s 4Afrika project, while the remaining R145m will be fronted by the JobsFund, a government initiative set up two years ago specifically to invest in job creation. The JobsFund is administered by the DBSA.
The cash will go towards Microsoft’s Students2Business (S2B) program, which funds students through 12 month internship programs which will see them qualify with Microsoft Certifications that are required for businesses. At the end of the internship, S2B tries to place as many interns in full-time jobs with Microsoft customers as possible, acting as a broker between businesses looking for skills and those who’ve recently acquired them. There’s also a focus on entrepreneurship and creating your own business.
Applicants for S2B must be between the age of 18 and 35. Applicants like Sean Damisa, a young man from KZN who was at the launch of the fund this morning. While still at school, he developed an interest in computers while on a work experience trip to the local mines. Sensibly deciding that a life underground wasn’t for him, he was mesmerised by the computers in the offices there.
“I went back to our local library and taught myself to code using books,” Damisa said, “And then went to college to get a BSc in Computer Science.”
After graduating, however, Damisa struggled to find work until he signed up for S2B, which placed him with the South African Qualification Authority, where he remains today coding portals for online recruitment.
That’s key to why the government is putting money into a scheme which could cynically be seen as an international program for training Microsoft engineers. While there’s a lot of jobs in South African IT going, Microsoft International President Jean-Phillips Courtois says that up to two thirds of them go unfilled because of lack of skills.
“If we can help citizens with the right tools, knowledge and infrastructure this will help them transform their country from one of poverty to one that creates wealth for their people,” Courtois added.
According to Microsoft South Africa MD Mteto Nyati, 6 000 students have been through the Student2Business program in the last five years, of whom 75% have gone on to full employment. The JobsFund, meanwhile has spent R3.4bn in 24 months, and has created 250 000 jobs.