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Microsoft is getting quite busy in Africa lately. Through its 4Afrika initiative, the company has announced that will partner with the South African government’s Jobs Fund to train more than 3000 unemployed graduates to get permanent jobs in the technology sector in the next three years.
“The government’s top priority is to get young South Africans working. As a company, we have long invested in South Africa and understand the need for us all to continue to develop solutions to this challenge. We remain committed to helping address the issue of youth unemployment, as we cannot let an entire generation of young people become long-term unemployed,” said Jean-Phillippe Courtois, the president of Microsoft International.
For the Redmond-based company this is a move that makes sense says Courtois as it helps the Microsoft expand its existing skills development programmes through funding from the Jobs Fund. Something the Job Fund is in agreement with. Patrick Dlamini, chief executive of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which administers the Jobs Fund, hailed the partnership with Microsoft as a major breakthrough in creating jobs in South Africa’s tech industry.
“We’ve been extremely encouraged by the way the private sector has risen to the challenge of helping create jobs in South Africa. Indeed, these types of partnerships between the private and public sector will be significant contributors to the more than 100 524 new permanent jobs which our current portfolio of approved projects aims to create by 2015. These projects will also place another 56 194 unemployed people in vacant positions,” he said.
The Job Fund was launched in 2009 with funds to the tune of R9-billion. The aim was to find innovative ways to solve one of South Africa’s biggest problems — employment. According to the fund, to date it has approved grant funding of “more than R3.4-billion, of which more than R1.2-billion has been allocated to private sector led initiatives”. The fund has also received around R1.5-billion in funding from the private sector. It is estimated that 25% of all South Africans are unemployed — and of those, 70% are youth.
Microsoft has been drumming on about youth unemployment in South Africa for a while now, with initiatives to help the country’s youth gain skills training through tech. According to Mteto Nyati, Microsoft South Africa’s managing director, it is “one of the biggest threats and challenges facing South Africa today”.
Nyati said that while Microsoft’s Student2Business (S2B) initiative, in conjunction with government agencies, had already trained more than 6 500 unemployed graduates and placed more than 75% in permanent positions, efforts to empower the country’s youth needed to be accelerated dramatically.
“South Africa is essentially a nation of young people — and the high level of youth unemployment threatens the very stability of the country. We aim to positively impact the lives of thousands of young people over the next three years, helping to close the opportunity divide by giving them access to technology and skills which will help them get on the pathway to work,” said Nyati.
The new initiative will seek to triple the training outreach programmes undertaken by Microsoft in the past. The students set to sign 12-month internship contracts under the Jobs Fund banner, with a target of having a minimum of 75% of the students employed in full-time jobs by the end of their training. Nyati said the training would focus on areas of need within the IT industry.