Despite all the talk of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, South Africa suffers from a dearth of ICT-related skills.
A survey examining demand for critical skills in 2019/2020 from Xpatweb reports that “South Africa is in desperate need of ICT skills, and sadly, the Education sector is just unable to produce these skills in the numbers that South Africa needs”.
Whether this a lack of interest, lack of funding available to prospective students or a lack of skilled teachers is unclear but what is apparent is that change is needed.
To that end Huawei has awarded 48 of South Africa’s top ICT students at five local universities bursaries that amount to R7 million.
“We believe that South Africa’s talented young people have the potential to mature into world-class experts,” says Huawei SA’s deputy chief executive officer, Kian Chen. “By enhancing industry-academic cooperation, we, as an international ICT company, hope to make our contribution to achieving the country’s development goals”.
Of course Huawei doesn’t only fund students, it has a number of initiatives that are designed to further the reach of ICT education in South Africa.
The company has committed to train 6000 ICT students from universities and TVET colleges in technologies like 5G, Cloud and AI. It also runs the Huawei ICT Academy in more than 50 universities and colleges in South Africa.
Students who successfully complete the course receive a professionally accredited certification which helps them when they enter the job market.
Huawei also runs its flagship corporate social responsibility programme Seeds for the Future in South Africa. Since its inception in 2016, more than 70 students have benefited from this annual technology and culture study programme.
“We know that we have to get more students to take up STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in South Africa,” explains Chen. “As Huawei, we’re proud to be part of building those numbers and ensuring that those who do take those courses are as well equipped to enter the workplace as possible”.
The students who have received bursaries are drawn from University of Pretoria, Wits University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Western Cape and University of Cape Town.
Huawei adds this programme gives students from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to accomplish their academic goals.