The skills gap is better bridged directly
Purposeful CSI investment
“Our prosperity as a nation depends on our ability to take full advantage of rapid technological change.”
President Ramaphosa, State of the Nation Address, 2018
If our country is to take full advantage of the rapid technological changes and achieve economic growth, providing access to high-quality and relevant skills development is a must. South African companies are in a unique position to work toward achieving this. The B-BBEE act was promulgated in 2003/2004 by Government to address the large economic disconnect between the privileged and underprivileged in South Africa, caused by apartheid policies. Through B-BBEE South African corporates are contributors to the social and economic development of the country.
It’s about partnership for success
According to Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen the Chief Marketing Officer at BCX, “B-BBEE is a partnership between Government and Corporates to bridge the economic and empowerment divide that still exists in our country. As corporates, we need to recognise this. Our contribution to economic access and knowledge access can be aligned to the future needs of our country, especially in skilling the youth for prospective employment. If we align our contributions to where it’s needed most, we would be able to set a brighter future for all our children.”
Ntloko-Petersen is passionate about ensuring that BCX’s corporate social responsibility contributions makes a sustainable impact and is even more passionate about upskilling the youth of our country. “it’s important that whilst we organise our CSI programmes to gain the necessary B-BBEE points and status, we do it in a way that is having a lasting impact.” Says Ntloko-Petersen.
Adding, “we have a choice between focusing our CSI and transformation initiatives to be a tick box approach or to have relevance to our country’s ability to succeed.”
At BCX we’ve ensured that transformation is embedded in our operations and we aim to make life-changing impacts to the beneficiaries of our programmes, be it our employees, SMME’s, suppliers, or the youth.”
Empowering our youth
“BCX has intentionally directed its skills development programmes to focus on the disempowered youth. In skilling and upskilling candidates through digitally focused programmes that are aimed at increasing their chances for employment”, say Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen.
Unemployment in South Africa currently stands at 29 percent. According to Stats SA’s 2019, quarter four report, “of the 20,4 million young people aged 15-34 years, 40,1% were not in employment, education or training (NEET) .”
In a bid to empower the youth of SA, BCX Skills Development strategy is focused on various initiatives aimed at establishing a solid foundation for future employment and increasing their digital skills. The initiatives include: A coding skills academy; A data science academy; A digital business management development program and, various Learnerships and Internships
“By investing in, and partnering with a number of carefully-selected organisations, such as WeThinkCode, Netcampus and the Explore Data Science Academy; we aim to build a generation of “smart, digital warriors” by offering the youth of our country the opportunity to learn 22nd–century skills in the 21st century.” explains Ntloko-Petersen.
WeThinkCode was founded with a vision to unlock youth potential by closing the digital skills gap in Africa. This non-profit company works within an eco-system of public and private partners to source and train world-class African digital talent; as well as provide its students with a clear path to employment. The two-year corporate-sponsored course, in which there are no teachers, and no classes. Instead, students learn through a peer-to-peer problem solving environment. The students are placed at various corporates to gain work experience, which is part of the internship program.
The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) which is a 12-month Accredited Skills Data Science Programme of which BCX is a founding partner and has injected over R50m in training over 300 interns in the past three years. The Explore academy was successful in placing about 70% of the interns resulting from the programme in positions at various organisations. According to Motselisi Leketa, “The programme opened doors for me, and provided me with many opportunities that I would not have been exposed to otherwise, especially given the current economic climate and unemployment rate,”
BCX is also focused on entry level digital skills, as they partner with Netcampus who provide training such as MS Office 365 and Azure as internships programme. BCX is currently investing in 470 unemployed youth that includes training, learnerships and internships.
In this fiscal, BCX trained approximately 218 disabled unemployed youth who have been or are in the process of being placed in employment. “This is what purposeful CSI investment is about,” suggests Ntloko-Petersen, “currently, we are investing in over 610 individuals who are reaping tangible and sustainable benefits.”
Every company has a responsibility to ensure the development and sustainability of the communities in which they operate. It is a partnership that gives youth the opportunity to enhance their employability prospects for a successful future as well as benefits to the company. We are also creating employable contributions to the economy which in turn will assist in eradicating the high youth unemployment rate. BCX is committed to transformation to address the complex challenges facing our country. A positive future starts with us.
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