Sibisiso Labi’s story is an example of how organisations can make a difference: Labi, now 20-years-old, was among the thousands of child-headed households in South Africa. But the determined boy from the Cape Flats refused to be a statistic. At the age of 18, he found a job as a picker at a supermarket distribution centre. A year later he resigned to pursue his dream of becoming a web developer.
Today, thanks to an innovative collaboration between Samsung South Africa and the University of the Western Cape the 20-year-old’s dream is materialising. He is one of 40 students receiving web and mobile software development training at a new Future-Innovation Lab which focuses on building digital innovation skills for unemployed youth in South Africa.
In May 2019, Samsung South Africa unveiled its R280 million Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP). Samsung’s EEIP projects, many of which have a focus on education such as the Samsung Engineering Academy and Bursary programmes are focussed on preparing youth to place their future in their own hands.
This is aligned with Samsung’s global mission: ‘Enabling People’, which is aimed at aiding people, discovering and developing their full potential. The EEIP initiative is projected to have a measurable impact on job creation and a contribution of nearly R 1-billion to the South African economy at large. Now the EEIP R&D Academy, in partnership with UWC and Microsoft, has showcased exactly what can be achieved.
“We believe our EEIP strategy will help alleviate the many challenges faced by the country’s youth. This exciting stage of the rollout through the R&D Academy affirms our commitment to growing South Africa through education, and we have dedicated the necessary resources and time to create possibilities, which were once merely a dream,” said Hlubi Shivanda, Director: Business Innovation Group and Corporate Affairs at Samsung South Africa.
The Future-Innovation Lab aims to provide an opportunity to deserving previously disadvantaged youth (between the ages of 18-35, to gain skills in software development and digital social innovation.
“We need to support and create the digital literates to build the economy we all seek. This is something that cannot be delivered by Government alone. We create policy to make it happen but it’s by working together with the private sector that we can effect meaningful change. We embrace companies such as Samsung and Microsoft who partner with us on our journey to empower our youth to be at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “said Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at the opening of the Future Innovation Lab.
The six-month Future-Innovation Lab programme focuses on:
· The development of software development skills and portfolios that can open doors to employment or further training;
· The development of transferable skills and experience in digital social innovation and
· The fostering of pathways into industry networks.
In addition to the six-month development experience, Samsung and UWC partnered with the Microsoft AppFactory to deliver an advanced nine-month software development programme to address the gap of high-demand software skills. The target group for this programme is more experienced software developers who lack practical or work experience. The programme aims to facilitate hands-on, real-world experience through creativity and fun in a learning and working environment.
Professor Josè Frantz – University of the Western Cape Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation – said: “The University of the Western Cape, as an engaged university, aims to make research count for the communities it serves. We value the importance of this initiative which will empower and prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.