We are in the business of connections. Every day we make connections that help us understand and drive the bigger picture. You don’t get to be Africa’s largest service technology provider without connecting people with ideas, skills with knowledge and ICT with Africa.

When we started out, we promised to make a critical connection between what we do and how we support the growth and development of Africa. Even now, every connection we make is driven by this commitment to be a relevant force for good. And it doesn’t stop with our business offering. We know we have something unique to offer if we invest our energy, resources, skills and partnerships into growing and supporting Africa’s development and growth.

That’s why our CSI programs are focused on making the connection between the skills and success of South Africa and the skills and success of its youth. We believe it’s all connected – youth development, unemployment, the skills gap, IT and a prosperous South Africa. So that’s what our CSI programme does – connects ICT skills, education, work experience, career advice and job placement through an integrated approach to youth development.

Our CSI programmes connects with experts and NGOs that are making it happen on the ground – AfrikaTikkun, Maths and Science Centre, and the Belgium Campus, for example. By supporting these programmes, we tick a lot of critical skills and educational boxes in support of South Africa’s youth.

Through our partnership with AfrikaTikkun, we have been driving the development of young people, from cradle to career, by supporting their Computer Skills Programme and career development in the ICT sector. AfrikaTikkun is well known and respected for its holistic, 360-degree approach to youth development, starting with Early Childhood Development and even integrating nutritional and family support into its programmes. We love working with partners that make critical connections between wellness and development.

With our partners at the Maths and Science Centre, we have been able to support:

  • 7 schools (including 2 special education schools) in Ekurhuleni Gauteng;
  • Over 700 Grade 8-12 pupils; and
  • 20 teachers and 10 facilitators

And we’re still making critical connections, like our current drive to introduce basic coding for Grade 7 to 12 learners through AfrikaTikkun, in partnership with the Maths and Science Centre. See how one good connection leads to another?

In addition, our Bursary Programme takes it a step further by helping to identify and connect promising young candidates from these programmes with bursaries that enable them to study towards three-year IT Diplomas and four-year IT Degrees at Belgium Campus. To date, 75 bursaries have been rewarded, which means 75 young people are now on the fast track to becoming IT professionals. A large number of them will join internships with us in 2020.

In 2018, we opened the first learning hub for 60 deaf students in rural Mthatha. This is focused on literacy and numeracy, a critical skill for young people with this severe disability. This is still in progress and we plan to extend this programme into basic computer literacy skills. A further investment to similar projects for deaf students since commenced and we also support groups in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 24 deaf students completed their Technical Support L4 learnerships in 2019 and we are supporting them to complete a System Support L5. We are extremely proud of this group of learners that successfully completed the qualification in 12 months.

Even with these partnerships taking the youth from skills to studies, we knew there was a vital link missing in our chain. What’s the point of having skills when you don’t have work experience and career support? We aren’t alone in this thinking. A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) study showed that work experience, not education, is a primary factor in youth unemployment.

So we turned our attention to sustainable job creation and we are developing a strategy to achieve the real ROI – permanent placement and suitable Job Creation of our current 316 unemployed youth on our programmes.

We’ll never stop connecting 

Through our CSI programmes, we’ve seen first-hand how one connection leads to another. Over the years, we’ve built connections across industries and through partnerships which have connected more youth to more skills and even more work placements and career support. We can’t think of a better way to be a relevant force for good than by connecting South Africa’s youth to the ICT industry. So don’t expect us to stop connecting because, the way we see it, that’s the reason we’re on this continent and leading this industry in the first place.

Click HERE to view more EOH articles in our Quarterly magazine.