Barriers to skills development

Founder and director of the Siyafunda Community Technology Centre

Founder and director of the Siyafunda Community Technology Centre

Ahmed ‘Smiley’ Ismael, founder and director of the Siyafunda Community Technology Centre highlights four problems that barriers to skills development.

Ahmed ‘Smiley’ Ismael, founder and director of the Siyafunda Community Technology Centre highlights four problems that barriers to skills development.

Accessibility

“In the communities we work in, we still find they have not used a computer at all, and have to start at the basic computer literacy levels, simply because there are no facilities that are easily accessible. People still have to travel distances to access these programmes. And, of course, lack of access to the Internet is a major obstacle as well.”

Cost

“The high cost of skills training programmes inhibits skills development. People who cannot put bread on the table question what an expensive computer course will do for them, and whether it will get them a sustainable job. And again, the high cost of Internet access is a major factor in accessing online and e-learning portals.”

Sustainability

Ismael says his organisation is finding that many skills centres are being set up by various stakeholders for corporate social investment purposes, and with noble intentions, but not much happens following their inauguration. “They are just not sustainable due to lack of capacity building and ongoing support and handholding of centre staff and management.”

Career guidance

Finally, according to Ismael, there is not enough career-pathing and guidance happening in schools today. “We often participate in schools’ career expos and find learners and students quite oblivious to what skills are really needed out there.”

Model of collaboration

Siyafunda CTC has developed an innovative model of collaboration and partnerships with multi-stakeholders, called CPPP – Community Pubic Private Partnership. This involves setting up knowledge centres at the doorstep of communities, with community partners and social entrepreneurs. “This model has enabled accessibility, affordability and sustainability. Communities can now access the programmes at their doorstep, and training programmes are made extremely affordable. In addition, community partners are capacitated with management skills, and the social enterprise model enables sustainability as affordable fees are charged for the programmes.”

The first Siyafunda Community Technology Centre was opened in Palm Ridge in 2006. Today, there are over 80 centres nationwide. 

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