Doug Woolley, Managing Director – South Africa, Dell Technologies
In a rapidly changing world, having transferable and relevant skills is not just valuable, it’s imperative. This is true for all people as industries are forced to transform and reinvent themselves, but particularly so for today’s youth.
With World Youth Skills day on July 15th, we are reminded about how important skills development is to empowering our youth and enabling them to thrive in a changing world. Additionally, developing skills in our youth has a broader impact, as it affects future employment rates and thus South Africa’s prosperity as a nation.
With companies increasingly turning to digital transformation to remain competitive and adapt to the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there is a growing need for individuals with digital skills.
But meaningful skills development does not arise by accident. It is built from concerted, continuous efforts to provide students with relevant skills that are in demand from the outset. One way that Dell Technologies has answered this need is through the establishment of the Khulisa Academy.
This High-Performance Computing (HPC) training academy, launched in 2016, is focused on enabling previously disadvantaged students and young women to further enhance their IT capabilities. The intensive program enrols 30 students annually and spans over two years. It focuses on imparting HPC certified skills training in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and several other HPC focused segments.
Opening up to open source
Most recently, it added another string to its bow in the form of the SUSE open-source software training curriculum. This will increase students’ marketability, as they emerge from their training with knowledge of Linux. Linux is overwhelmingly the preferred operating environment for the world’s servers – particularly around web and cloud infrastructure. Furthermore, SUSE enables enterprises to simplify, modernize and accelerate their traditional and cloud native applications across their IT landscape. Indeed, many enterprises have been making a concerted effort to accelerate their digital transformation plans and migrate to Linux based high-performance computing platforms as part of how they adapt to a changing business environment. With the Khulisa Academy now able to train up students in open-source software, this bodes well for those students’ prospects once they complete their training.
A place for learning
Another pivotal part of encouraging youth to develop their skills is giving them the right place to do so. That has been the motivation behind the Solar Learning Labs, which are self-contained, solar-powered technology learning labs built in a converted shipping container.
These have been initiated by the Dell SA Development Fund (DDF), with the aim of creating technology literate and connected communities through education. The labs are deployed in areas where historically, infrastructure and access to computing resources has been sparse and where IT skills education can make a meaningful difference.
For example, students at the Waverly Girls High School and Maptetla High School in Soweto have been receiving instruction at their Solar Learning Labs in coding and robotics, along with introductory Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity essentials.
Each of these are core to having a solid grounding in useful tech skills. Together with practical skills gained at the Solar Learning Labs, matriculants are given a significant boost to the set of competencies they leave school with, beyond a matric certification.
When it entails skills development, our stated aim is simple: helping the youth fulfil their promise and play their part in driving progress forward into a more positive future.