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Nokia seeks to alleviate Youth Unemployment in South Africa

by Milicent Atieno
nokia south africa

Unemployment is a major problem across many developing nation. In South Africa, the unemployment rate currently sits at 26.50%, but that is nothing close to the level of unemployment among the youths, which sits at 50.9%

Ironically, many tech companies complain of lack of adequate supply of skilled labor into the industry. That goes to say, industries such as technology do have employment opportunities. The only problem is most youths are not armed with the relevant skills needed to fill these posts.

Well, Nokia has set out to try correcting the situation in South Africa. The Head of Government Relations of Middle East & Africa at Nokia, Brahim Ghribi says the lack of skilled labor supply to the tech industries is not just unique to the developing countries. Even industrialized nations are somewhat struggling to find skilled personnel.

Ghribi says there is dire need to bridge the gap between the need for skilled labor by tech companies and the availability of skilled workforce. To alleviate the problem, work must be done to establish the cause creating this gap.

Is it because the youth quit school early and therefore lack the adequate training and skills required, or is there a mismatch between what they are being taught at school and the job market reality? As far as I’m concerned, in many cases, it is a combination of the two and this issue is not unique to South Africa.

We need an urgent revision of the whole education system, drive broader access to the internet as an information and learning delivery mechanism, get the youth online and try to adapt learning.”

Ghribi further urges that at the rate at which technology changes, much effort needs to be seen from both the public and private sectors to ensure the education systems adapts to these changes. Ghribi encourages stakeholders to expose the youths to the many opportunities presented by ICT that they are not aware of.

The youths in Africa must be given the platform to innovate and expose their ideas and projects to find potential investors, financial support, and market.

Ghribi also delved into gender diversity in the tech industry saying, “We at Nokia believe that although a lot is already being done to encourage women to enter the ICT sector, it requires an ongoing effort. As a company, we strive to have a gender balance that reflects the world around us, and we support several programs to achieve this.”

Nokia runs a program dubbed, Strong Her, which is a network of employees that promote gender equality in the workplace.

Companies need to start internally and then, also focus on promoting diversity externally. They should also look for the skills at a much broader scale and promote women in ICT, by getting them on board and training them with the right skills so that the have an equal opportunity.”

On the front of girl/women empowerment, Nokia has also been supporting other initiatives like the CodeBus Africa and Green Light for Girls. These are programs that champion youths and girl empowerment through education. Ghribi stresses on the need for government and private sectors to lead the movements that fight for youths and girl-child empowerment.

We all have a role to play and need to join hands in terms of shaping the future of technology. This must not just be done for the sake of it, but to transform the human experience. We know that most governments in Africa and in other parts of the world have national ICT plans. For the youth to truly benefit, these plans must go beyond the frontiers of telecommunications and touch every sector of the economy.”

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