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Key to Unlock IT Skills for African Youth is with the Private Sector

“It’s not just about on-the-job learning for me, it’s about personal, work and career development…”

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unlocking IT skills for African youth - Image by www.undp.org
Photo Credit: www.undp.org

At his Youth Day address at the Mthatha Stadium in the Eastern Cape on the 16th of June, President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated that young people are the force that drives a country and grows its economy.

Not only that, but young people are a source of innovation and new ideas who have energy and talent.

He acknowledged the government’s commitment to putting young people at the centre of the national recovery plan, because of the county’s 64% unemployment rate.

In his address, President Ramaphosa stated, “It is the singular focus of this administration to ensure that young people are given access to opportunities so they can better themselves, that they can drive change in their communities, and contribute to our economy”.

However, it’s become evident that to effect real change, the private sector needs to step in and collaborate amongst industries to not only benefit the youth but ensure a talented future workforce.

One such collaboration is the ‘NextGen’ programme, a ServiceNow initiative with Quintica South Africa as its occasion partner aims to address the skills gap across the information technology (IT) sector by providing the opportunity for young people to train, reskill and upskill through its programme with the goal of recruiting local talent.

The ‘NextGen’ programme is a global programme that has been around for several years, but 2022 saw its first-ever group of African intakes. Of those that completed the programme, all have been able to either be promoted, find employment, or at the very least are now equipped with the skills that are in high demand – making them more “marketable” for recruiters and corporates who are hiring.

Quintica, a ServiceNow Elite partner, is helping companies unlock the platform by creating service experiences that drive customer loyalty and company-wide productivity, advancing their digital journey.

The ServiceNow Platform helps large enterprises run more efficiently – automating processes – by creating workflows for any part of the organisation, from legal to procurement, customer service to employee onboarding and even the IT departments.

When applications to the programme opened, there were over 300 African applicants and after a rigorous selection process, only five individuals were selected to take part in the programme.

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Zimkhita Buwa, CEO and board member at Quintica South Africa, says “We are so proud of the first South African cohort, each with different backgrounds but shared experiences. These graduates have now been placed best to improve their futures and the future of those around them who rely on them for financial support. The opportunities to pursue their careers are now set on course through their identified and nurtured talents.”

All five of the participants have graduated from the programme and begin their respective new journeys by having addressed their personal skills gaps.

What President Ramaphosa said about youth which is particularly worth noting, is that “Young people are resilient and never give up, even when it is difficult.”

The ‘NextGen’ graduates have been great examples of resilience and tenacity.

According to Buwa, “We had a broad range of participants. Some had work experience, some were unemployed or retrenched and some just needed upskilling. The NextGen programme aims to change the lives of these graduates by giving them the skills they need to empower themselves and their future careers.” 

For Thulani Mhlwana, an IT and Computer Science graduate from Ekurhuleni, joining Quintica as an intern, gave him the opportunity to take the part in the ServiceNow NextGen programme – an opportunity he never thought was possible after being retrenched and unemployed. Graduating from the programme allows him to be part of a global platform that can take him anywhere in the world. 

“Quintica is like a family to me. Everyone welcomes you with a smile and open arms. I see a promising future ahead.” 

“It’s not just about on-the-job learning for me, it’s about personal, work and career development. I’ve taken myself out of my comfort zone and embraced opportunities that have a real business and broader industry impact.”  

Puseletso Nofemele worked nightshifts in a call centre to pay for textbooks to study IT and Finance and is an example of what many South Africans have to endure to land a job in the tough job market.

With such dedication and perseverance, Puseletso is now able to harness the skills learned through the NextGen programme and work towards a successful career in IT.

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It’s been reported that South Africa has the highest share of female graduates in Sub-Saharan Africa at 32%, and even more female ICT graduates, at 38%.

This goes to show that concerted efforts are being made to narrow the gender gap in STEM education

It’s no wonder then, that three of the five African participants are female.

Like many other companies, ServiceNow has a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Muhammed Omar, country manager, Africa, ServiceNow, comments on the ServiceNow’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, “Our mission is to create unlimited opportunities for training and employment for populations that are traditionally marginalized from the field of technology – populations like Africa.  Our aim is to grow and develop the next generation of leaders by closing the technical skills gap and ensuring that all communities have access to education in technology.”

Just like Quintica’s tagline, ‘Big Things, Great People’, the ServiceNow NextGen programme is dedicated to growing the talent pool of ServiceNow-trained professionals – making the world of work, work better for all.

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