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Elation as first EC cohort of work-ready electronics technicians graduates

Home Business Management Education & Training Elation as first EC cohort of work-ready electronics technicians graduates

SAMSUNG in conjunction with Ocule IT hosted a graduation ceremony for the first cohort of the Mict-Seta-accredited electronics technician programme in the Eastern Cape. This first group of graduates from the province now form part of the four cohorts in the national electronics artisanal skills development initiative, which aims to stimulate job creation in less economically active regions.

In 2022, the Eastern Cape was one of the country’s rural provinces that recorded an expanded unemployment rate of above 50% and is now looking to attract and maintain investment to lower these unemployment figures. To assist the province in overcoming its unemployment issues and create a group of employable students, a graduation ceremony was held on November 14, 2023, at Ray Mhalaba Skills Training Centre, Glendinningvale in Gqeberha.

This electronics apprenticeship programme is part of Samsung’s mission to empower youth in the ICT sector and has produced incredible results since the launch of the R280 million Equity Equivalent Investment Programme (EEIP) in 2019. It all started in 2020 when Samsung sought to address the country’s critical shortage of technicians to service consumer electronics and handheld devices. The company therefore decided to sponsor the 12-month Seta-accredited electronics apprenticeship programme in partnership with Ocule IT.

In the Eastern Cape, 19 students enrolled for the first cohort, comprising six men and 13 women. The gender bias is a deliberate move to address the shortage of women in the tech industry. In the first three cohorts since 2020, the programme has seen about 80 learners being enrolled nationally.

An Eastern Cape graduate, Lwazikazi Tatayi said: “Before this programme, I knew absolutely nothing about IT. In these 12 months, I’ve learnt so much and I have now been exposed to specialisations that include automation, fault-finding and troubleshooting as well as soft skills that include administration through the SAP system. But the turning point for me was when I was placed at Centurion Systems for the practical part of the programme, focusing on mechatronics – an interdisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on the integration of mechanical, electrical, electronic and software engineering.

“Everything that I learnt in the first five months when we focused on theory made more sense when I applied it practically. Working in a conducive environment with a mentor who is passionate about women’s empowerment has helped me to find my purpose and motivated me to always do my best. I’m grateful to the partners that played a part in not only improving my life but also changing my mindset towards my work and my life in general.”

The electronics technician programme aims to develop sought-after artisan skills in the field of electronics. These artisans are trained, guided and mentored by accredited specialist providers as part of their workplace training. Lab tests and assessments are conducted, which ultimately lead to certification. At the end of the theoretical and workplace training, learners would have mastered the processes around the design, manufacturing and repairing of electronic equipment and products.

Director: business operations, innovation & corporate affairs at Samsung South Africa, Hlubi Shivanda, said: “The Eastern Cape government has been on a mission to look for investment, to fight the high unemployment rate in the province. This partnership with Ocule IT is part of a comprehensive integrated skills development investment programme that is prioritising the delivery of an integrated holistic package of personal, technical, entrepreneurial and business skills, aligned to meet the needs of the economic development strategies for both the Eastern Cape and the country as a whole.”

Demonstrating the demand for qualified artisans in the electronics repair industry and the measurable impact of this programme, eight students have successfully been permanently employed, seven students started their own small businesses and four students enrolled to further their studies. Tatayi is one of the students who has been employed in the company permanently and has already been exposed to different aspects of the business.

Senior technician and mentor at Centurion Systems in the Eastern Cape, Matthew Lennon added: “We are grateful to this programme because as a company and the electronics and automation industries, using the latest electronic technology, we have gained a group of technicians of such high calibre. As a company, we are convinced that this passionate group of young technicians will not only contribute to our business’ success but also to the specialised skills needed by the country to grow our local economy.”

Samsung in conjunction with Ocule IT believe that despite the many challenges that face the country’s youth, there is immense potential that can be explored. This electronics Technician programme is, but one of the initiatives that can open new doors for previously disadvantaged youth.

Sanele Gcumisa, Ocule IT managing member said: “Both Samsung and our organisation, are well aware of the fact that rural provinces such as the Eastern Cape, more than ever need to equip the youth to seize the opportunities that lie in the ICT sector. This programme has already seen great success in various parts of the country, focusing mainly on training unemployed youth from rural and township areas.”

The partners are convinced that in collaboration with government, they are in a great position to empower the leaders of tomorrow by continuing to seek out the avenues that will lead to continued success. “Working together with like-minded institutions such as Ocule IT and government, we can dedicate the necessary resources and time to create endless possibilities for youth in previously disadvantaged communities. We remain steadfastly committed to the idea of real empowerment and education through technology that changes lives,” Shivanda said.

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