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The University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Accenture have collaborated to establish a skills development project in under-resourced communities, in what has been hailed as one of the most exciting developments in education.

The project, known as the Advanced Technology Centre, is in Soweto, south of Johannesburg. A modern building with state-of-the-art spaces is being built in Extension 1 of the township.

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The property and buildings are to be used for the establishment of a centre for the advancement of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics for the benefit of the youth and the community.

The project will also offer support in related fields that include, but not limited to, adult education, with the involvement of other stakeholders who support and promote the aforesaid objectives.

The collaboration is inspired by the fact that both UJ and Accenture have aspirational goals and a vision for addressing unemployment, imparting digital skills of the future, and contributing towards the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) in South Africa.

The project is also part of UJ and Accenture’s drive to develop an innovative business model and new ways of working for the skills required for Africa’s digital acceleration.

UJ/Accenture plan to train 130 youth in 2021, growing to 300 by 2024. Upon completion of the relevant course with UJ and the Advanced Youth Centre, the graduates will have the opportunity for placement within Accenture’s partners or client networks.

“As one of the country’s digital accelerators, we are witnessing a resurgence in demand for custom, bespoke digital skills within larger enterprises,” says Vukani Mngxati, CEO for Accenture in Africa.

“This demand places an additional strain on the country’s already limited pool of qualified and experienced professionals, whom Accenture also needs for its own projects with clients.

“It’s vital that we develop adaptable and transferable skills that prepare youth for the dynamic workplace of the future and remain applicable as jobs and industries evolve.”

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal said the project is deeply rooted in the University’s drive to address the country’s economic inequalities and to bridge the gap in digital technologies, as underpinned by agility in the 4IR space.

“This project is rooted in UJ’s mission to inspire its communities to transform and serve humanity through innovation and the collaborative pursuit of knowledge.

“This is not just one of the most exciting developments in education but also exemplifies the University of Johannesburg’s drive to enable the convergence of digital and physical technology.

“The project will nurture community ‘netpreneurship’ (cyber-based entrepreneurship) by offering programmes aligned to the fourth industrial revolution.”