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More than 2000 tertiary students have benefited from a joint ICT training programme between Huawei and South Africa’s Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT). The students hail from more than 20 universities and TVET colleges. More than 900 of the students have additionally benefitted from knowledge sharing and virtual tours to Huawei’s 5G lab in Shenzhen, China.

These skills will be vital as South Africa looks to build a competitive, future-oriented economy.  It is widely recognised that 5G will be the key enabler of the fourth industrial revolution, or 4IR, which will change the way we live, work, play, and consume services.

Equipping South African youth with 4IR skills has become essential. Reflecting the shortage of such skills, the 2019 JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey found that across sectors, SETA authorities identified digital and ICT roles as hard-to-fill vacancies. The 2020 list of occupations in high demand, meanwhile notes that ICT was one of two sectors (along with health) that saw a continued increase in demand for skills over the past year. 

“The National Development Plan (NDP) identifies 4IR as being crucial to eliminating income poverty and inequality, as well as to increase employment,” says Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. “In this regard, we see education as a tool that empowers the youth of our country. Creating a groundswell for digital skills, while leveraging young people’s affinity with technology, will advance and strengthen the country’s economic base, to enable South Africa to become more competitive in today’s globalised markets.

She added that collaborative programmes, like the one between the department and Huawei, is crucial to achieving this, and the NDP’s goals.   

The four-day training period offers the following modules: driving force of 5G evolution, development of 5G protocol standardisation, 5G industry chain and ecosystem, and 5G global commercial deployment. It helps the students to build a fundamental understanding of the development, system structure, and industrial application of 5G.

Initially held in-person, the training moved online after South Africa went into lockdown in March 2020. The training has received very positive feedback from the students, with many saying that the training was very informative, educational.

“As a pioneer in the 5G space, Huawei understands how much potential it has when it comes to transforming economies around the globe,” says Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan. “South Africa is no exception and Huawei is proud to be of assistance when it comes to ensuring that the country’s future workers are as well-equipped as possible when it comes to embracing 4IR”.

Ultimately, the programme aims to train more than 6 000 students.  To assist South African youth in equipping themselves with 4IR technology skills and knowledge, Huawei will further organise continuous 4IR trainings on 5G/AI/Cloud technologies respectively.

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