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Many African nations today are seeking the right solutions to overcome the challenges in the path of sustainable development. They were looking to create development which is not just inclusive, socially cohesive and builds national character but also alleviates poverty, promotes economic prosperity and brings the country on the world platform. Distilling the 'right' solution for a nation calls for a sound policy and political environment, capacity building of its people and institutions, alliances with strong development advisors and partners, and of course, a well thought through vision.
South Africa has been making a huge effort to achieve sustainable development and build the nation in the last two decades. The fact that the nation is focused on attaining its development targets is substantiated by
South Africa's National Development Plan—Vision for 2030, released in November 2011. The Plan charts the way forward for the feisty nation through elimination of poverty and reduction of inequality.
At its core, lies building capabilities of and creating opportunities for the South African people and institutions. A capabilities approach to development is critical to broadening opportunities, which in turn, is an essential element of the nation-building process.
The Plan, which is being implemented following an 'inclusive capabilities' approach, is expected to achieve its goals for Education, Training and Innovation by 2030. Some of the more critical targets include enabling about 80 percent of schools and learners to achieve 50 percent and above in literacy, mathematics and science in grades 3, 6 and 9. The country is also keen for at least 80 percent of children to complete 12 years of schooling by 2030. This will increase higher education participation from 17 to 30 percent and total employment to 24 million. It will also push the nation to set up an efficient and stronger Information Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure.
The Plan recognizes that there are multiple challenges to be overcome as part of Vision fulfillment, of which the
two most critical, high priority and interrelated areas of concern are:
The quality of education.
Since creating jobs and livelihood opportunities and improving the quality of education and training are imperative for achieving social cohesion as well as economic growth, the nation is also dedicatedly focusing on its youth and children. After all it is the youth and children who are the future of the country. The goal of the Plan therefore is to:
Address the challenge of
unemployment. The Plan intends to
create11 million jobs by creating an environment for sustainable employment and inclusive economic growth and promoting employment in labor-absorbing industries.
Address the challenge of
poor education quality. The Plan aims to:
Ensure that early childhood education access rates exceed 90 percent;
Ensure quality school education, with globally competitive literacy and numeracy standards
Create an expanding higher education and training sector that that contributes towards rising incomes;
Ensure higher productivity and the shift to a more knowledge-intensive economy
Ensure a wider system of innovation that links key public institutions (universities and science councils) with South Africa's economic priorities.
children in and out of school,
youth, school dropouts/low scorers
existing youth in colleges, universities and tertiary institutes
out of work youth and older graduates
Given the current environment, that was replete with challenges on the one hand and the changes envisioned through the Plan on the other, the government of South Africa required a development partner who had the requisite ability and experience to not just advise and guide but also to innovate, implement and deliver.
With this preamble in mind, the Department of Economic Development of Kwa-Zulu Natal together with the Confederation of India Industry, NIIT and the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI) joined hands to create a global talent pool in Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing in the province. To execute the project of such importance, NIIT under the aegis of the MEC of KZN's Department of Economic Development, set up an ICT institute for Software Engineering and Business Process Outsourcing in eight identified FET colleges across the province.
Within South Africa, the neighboring Gauteng province has a flourishing call center industry, with KZN accounting for less than 10 percent of the total call center business in the country (Source: Keryn House, Gauteng 2008).
The aim of the project was also to attract BPO companies to the province, to bridge the ever increasing gap between rising product complexities, customer expectations and manpower availability across the globe. Manpower retention is the toughest challenge within the BPO sector and nobody is oblivious to the fact that the hunt for new possible destinations has picked up in the last five years.
Together, in cooperation with the MKI and the government of Kwa Zulu Natal, NIIT has been able to develop IT, communication, professional, behavioral and soft skills within the province to bridge the gap between the knowledge of candidates and the precise skills required for the BPO industry.
The project went live in 98 days of signing the Agreement where 8 labs were established, 4 each of ICT and BPO with a capacity to train 250 learners per year.
The project was formally launched by Dr. Z.L Mkhize, Premier, Kwa Zulu Natal.
More than 500 learners appeared in each centre in the Recruitment drive conducted by NIIT and MKI.
The project was successfully registered with the Department of Higher Education, RSA. It received a full Accreditation by MICT Seta for ICT qualifications and an Approval from Service SETA for BPO programs.