Nedbank has launched the Nedbank DigiSkills online platform, in partnership with Microsoft and Afrika Tikkun, to help South Africans acquire the in-demand skills needed in a more digital post COVID-19 economy. The initiative initially aims to upskill and create sustainable income opportunities for 1 000 South Africans by the end of 2021, with plans to grow this number to 5 000 in the longer term.
The low bandwidth DigiSkills platform will offer five free online short courses and learning tracks covering today’s most in-demand digital skills to underserved populations and South Africans impacted by the economic crisis that COVID-19 triggered.
South Africa faces the ongoing triple threat of unemployment, poverty and inequality, made worse by the pandemic: the country’s unemployment rate hit a record 34.4 percent in the second quarter of 2021 – equating to 7.8 million jobless South Africans – with the hardest hit being the youth and women in poorer and more remote areas. That builds on the 2.2 million jobs lost as a result of the pandemic.
“Digital skills provide the tools needed to mitigate poverty, unemployment, and inequality by improving employability, enabling livelihood opportunities and unlocking opportunities to actively participate in the emerging and competitive digital economy,” says Khensani Nobanda, Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank Group.
The DigiSkills programme aims to upskill economically displaced and underrepresented individuals with five learning paths covering the most critical technical and specialist skills needed by businesses today and in the future. The three technical short courses are Software Development, Data Analyst, and IT Administration. The two specialist, non-technical learning tracks are Project Management and Customer Service Specialist.
This initiative will harness the individual and collective capabilities of each of the partners to provide the support needed to access the training. It is designed to do so by:
- Recruiting potential candidates over the age of 18 with a working grasp of English, who have been economically displaced, are underserved or unemployed.
- Providing access to free digital skills learning tracks of their choice through a low bandwidth online learning platform utilising the Microsoft Community Training Platform. This also comes with optional subsidised industry-recognised Microsoft certifications and exam writing at Nedbank facilities in major cities across South Africa.
- Equipping participants with a blended learning model facilitated through Afrika Tikkun with support mechanisms including peer groups, mentors and facilitators, shown to meaningfully increase the likelihood of participant success as well as secure higher engagement rates.
- Enabling livelihood opportunities through career development intervention including career guidance, job readiness training and job placement support.
“It is imperative to meaningfully accelerate investment in digital skills and tangibly contribute to building a digital economy, and the time to act is now in order to both overcome challenges of unemployment as well as harness the positive benefit that engaging in the digital economy has on individuals, families, communities and the country as a whole,” says Onyi Nwaneri, CEO of Afrika Tikkun Services.
The programme is a focused, intentional and transformational approach to achieving these outcomes – as well as to creating shared value. “This speaks to solving social challenges with core business capabilities to drive both social impact and business value,” says Nobanda.
“By partnering with like-minded organisations to drive access to education and equip the South Africans that need it the most with the skills they will need to compete in the digital economy of today and the future, we are creating real sustainable value that has social and business value. This approach is not a once off for Nedbank, but speaks to our essence of being a purpose led brand further evidenced in an initiative launched this week named Together – Beke le Beke, to rebuild and grow South African micro enterpises and small businesses with skills, mentorship and funding, following the recent lootings and impact of COVID-19.”
This latest partnership builds on the momentum of Microsoft’s Global Skilling Initiative, which has helped over 400 000 people in South Africa gain access to digital skills like software development, data analysis and customer service specialisation since June last year.
It includes strategic partnerships with the public and private sectors, and non-profits like Afrika Tikkun to extend the reach of digital skills to more South Africans, and support them on their learning journeys through assistance with registering, determining the best learning pathway, completing this pathway, and sourcing work experience, job placement and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“These partnerships have been fundamental to scale programmes that help more people gain the critical future skills needed in the digital economy. We are committed to collaborating with partners such as Nedbank and Afrika Tikkun to provide the training, tools and platforms to boost employability and economic growth,” says Lillian Barnard, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft South Africa.
South Africans interested in equipping themselves with these in-demand digital skills can register for the programme on: https://www.digiskills.careers