IBM partners with NYDA to enhance digital literacy for the youth of South Africa

24th November 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

Information technology multinational IBM has partnered with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) in South Africa to bridge the digital divide for South African youth by enhancing digital literacy and preparing them to actively succeed in the twenty-first-century workplace with the essential skills for this disruptive era, IBM said on November 24.

Faced with high youth unemployment rates in South Africa, and given that technology is transforming jobs, industries and entire economies, IBM and the NYDA will run a series of educational 'boot camps' through NYDA's regional offices to digitally empower youth.

The NYDA currently has programmes which it believes will be mutually beneficial to both parties.

“The country has set itself the task to take quantum leaps towards ushering in the digital economy. As digital skills are critical for future success, partnerships that will help young people to take advantage of the opportunities presented are increasingly important.

"Through our partnership with the [NYDA], IBM will help prepare our young people for the jobs of the future and contribute to building a workforce equipped with a new generation of skills”, says IBM Southern Africa acting GM Ria Pinto.

More than three-million youth between the ages 18 and 24 are not in employment.

According to Statistics South Africa, youth aged 15 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years have the highest unemployment rates of any age group, at 64.4% and 42.9%, respectively. This highlights the growing need for the public and private sectors to collaborate on education and training that keeps pace with market demands, demographic changes and technology progress.

“Youth unemployment is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions. Young people hold the key to transforming our economy, boosting growth and fostering creativity and innovation. They are essential to increasing productivity and improving the livelihoods of all South Africans,” says NYDA CEO Waseem Carrim.

“The youth unemployment rate is over 40% according to the most recent statistics. We welcome the initiative by IBM and are proud to be a partner to the programme. Estimates indicate a shortage of 60 000 digitally skilled persons in the South African economy and this programme can be a catalyst for change.

“Effective solutions are being pioneered through this partnership through access to skills and we must, therefore, support and give prominence to what is working in the system, encourage innovation and catalyse changes in the system that benefit tens of thousands of young people over the next decade,” he adds.

This initiative is one of 170 new academic and industry partnerships in 30 countries that are part of a global plan IBM unveiled on November 24 to provide 30-million people of all ages with new skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow by 2030. The initiative will leverage IBM’s existing programmes and career-building platforms to expand access to education and in-demand technical roles.

“Talent is everywhere; training opportunities are not. This is why we must take big and bold steps to expand access to digital skills and employment opportunities so that more people, regardless of their background, can take advantage of the digital economy,” says IBM chairperson and CEO Arvind Krishna.