Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
7 minute read
1 Oct 2021
5:24 pm

Nxesi shows support for SA youth empowerment drive

Brian Sokutu

The trainees will enter a month-long internship programme, during which they will gain practical job experience in the field and thereafter - students showing exceptional performance - will be selected and offered employment contracts.

President of Huawei Southern Africa Leo Chen (left), Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi and Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan, with a group of SA youth who have graduated from the Huawei technical training.

In a drive aimed at contributing to South Africa’s rise to becoming a fully inclusive digital economy, global ICT company Huawei Technologies has been offering free training to local youth – filling positions as field maintenance engineers, electrical and rigger experts in the telecommunications industry.

With highly-performing candidates who successfully complete the programme being offered employment with Huawei partner companies, the programme – running until December 2022 – helps in the training of up to 150 youth.

From the group, subcontracting partners hope to absorb 100 successful candidates.

The Up-Skilling programme is structured in two phases – trainees attend a 10-day theory course on Wireless/TX training, which include content on Environmental Health and Safety, Standard Operating Procedures, Site Energy Maintenance, Operation Web Services tools practice and testing.

Following this, the trainees will enter a month-long internship programme, during which they will gain practical job experience in the field and thereafter – students showing exceptional performance – will be selected and offered employment contracts by the Huawei sub-contracting partners.

Technical student Bright Leso who has benefited from the Huawei technology training. Picture: Supplied

Addressing a ceremony to mark the Huawei ICT Youth Up-Skilling programme and the conferring of certificates to students, Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi has been full of praise for the work done by the company – particularly for being in the forefront of creating jobs and nurturing youth talent in South Africa.

He said Huawei’s vision and approach to training was “perfectly-aligned to the South African government” in terms of skills training.

“We can see that Huawei is actively implementing that vision to the benefit of SA youth – as well as to the broader economy,” said Nxesi.

He said: “Let me begin by thanking Huawei South Africa for their contribution to the training of South African youth in relation to the skills that the industry requires in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“To the trainees, you are at an important point in your career path – your future success is in your own hands, requiring hard work, diligence and commitment.

“I and my department – together with other relevant government departments – look forward to exploring developing further, our relationship with Huawei in regard to the job training and employment-creating initiatives in the ICT sector, upskilling of existing employees and supporting small enterprises to ensure they get the ICT skills required for them to be sustainable in the market place.”

In an interview with The Citizen, Nxesi – reflecting on South Africa’s high youth unemployment rate – said: “Indeed SA is in a crisis and what we must do is to mobilise the national resources in order to do relevant training – to take into consideration that the world of work is changing because of the introduction of technology and mechanisation.

“The issue of digital skills has become so important – hence we so much appreciate this programme. Key is how we embrace this programme as the SA government and society.

South West Gauteng TVET College acting principal Malose Joseph Monyamane, speaking during graduation. Picture: Supplied

“We can only embrace it if we massify this programme – not just working just with one company but with many companies in this particular space.

“Already four to five departments are discussing this in relation to training coordination and integration, because one of our weaknesses is working in silos.”

He described the Huawei drive to empower the youth as “a very important programme”, saying it should be “massified”.

Skills transfer, said Nxesi, was “a key component of the partnership”.

“For companies coming from outside the country, it must be about the workforce, which they employ.

“It should be about how to transfer those skills, even to people outside their companies, because – whether we like it or not – the digital skills have become so key for our future economy,” said Nxesi.

In his speech, president of Huawei Southern Africa Leo Chen said: “This campus we are in today, is a big investment for Huawei in South Africa – we invested R1.2 billion in this beautiful campus consisting of 18 buildings.

“But this is not our biggest investment in South Africa.

“Our biggest and the most important investment is in the people.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents the great shift of our time.

“There are three key pillars supporting the realization of 4IR – technology, digital application and digital talent, which is the most important part.

“Most of the jobs will have an ICT component in the future.

“As you are aware, ICT skills have been highlighted as skills that are most in-demand in the national list of occupations – in high demand in South Africa.

“Digital talent is the soft power of a country – determining a country’s global competitiveness in the digital era.”

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, is passionate about youth empowerment. Picture: Supplied

Chen said there was a multi-layered demand for digital skills in any country.

He said: “We need more ICT-savvy policy makers to better utilize the digital tools to lead the country.

“We need reskilled and upskilled ICT workforce to better innovate so the country can leapfrog its way into the future.

“We need to encourage and empower the youth to follow ICT-related studies so the country will have a strong pool of digital talent needed for socio-economic development.

“And the fundamental layer is promoting digital literacy among ordinary citizens to bring about a knowledge-based society.

“When being a tech geek becomes cool, we can look forward to a digitally motivated future.

“We have been rolling out a range of ICT talent development programs around the hierarchy of digital skill needs of a country in South Africa.

“The outcome of these programs is impressive in both quantity and quality.”

“A key youth ICT programme is the Huawei ICT Academy, this programme acts as a bridge between enterprises and academia, to deliver standard professional certification required by employers.

“Since the launch of the programme, more than 60 academic institutions, 40 of which are from the crucial TVET (technical vocational education and training) sector, have enrolled across all nine provinces in South Africa, with more than 4 000 students and lecturers participating in Huawei ICT certification training.”

Said South West Gauteng TVET College acting principal Malose Joseph Monyamane: “Through the intervention of Mr Nemugavhini from MICTSETA and Dr Matobako from AUDA Nepad SIFA – and of course the colleagues from Huawei, we have benefited by signing the MOA (memorandum of association) that will ensure that the college community is benefiting in the upcoming industrial revolution such as 5G and enterprise solutions, with the massive project amount of almost R25 million worth of equipment, wherein the college has provided the space for the installation of the equipment.

“This project will see the South West Gauteng TVET College as the first recipient of the grant in Southern Africa, the Soweto community and its surroundings, getting access to the facilities that they will utilize to gain the most advanced technological skills in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“Those who have graduated will also be certified to repair, manage and produce the Huawei certified product, through the accreditation effected to the college.”

Speaking on behalf of students, Bright Leso said: “I am one of the recruits who just got certified from the Huawei hardware installation training, which was provided at no cost to us.

“Huawei as a company took care of all our needs in ensuring that we were well equipped and ready to embark on our journey.

“We were provided with meals, transportation, well-experienced engineers and accommodated in an environment that is conducive to our overall development in the ICT industry.

“We often wondered and saw some engineers drive around in branded vehicles and never knew how they started their careers. 

“This training we received, has the potential to open doors for us in the telecommunication Industry.”