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Unemployed youth in Limpopo anticipate opportunities as UL, Samsung? launch digital lab

Numerous unemployed youth stand to enhance their employment prospects through training opportunities in software development, courtesy of the University of Limpopo's (UL) Limpopo Digital Innovation Lab (LDIL)

Launched recently, this collaborative effort with Samsung and the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition (Dtic), executed by UL, has introduced a specialised software development programme. Besides equipping youth with software skills, the programme is tailored to address the pressing issue of high youth unemployment in the Limpopo Province.

Currently, only ten students from diverse communities in Limpopo have been enrolled in this programme, with its curriculum including a practical component called digital social innovation, enabling students to address community issues through digital means. An additional 15 will be shortlisted and interviewed in the near future, bringing the total to 25 for this academic year. These students will participate in a 12-month-long programme that focuses on the fundamentals of coding and programming.

During the lab's launch, UL Chancellor and Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, emphasised the lab's importance, highlighting the transformative power of technology in an evolving world. She explained how the lab aligns with the University's commitment to bridging the digital divide, particularly in rural communities and economies.

"The lab is positioned as a valuable resource for the people of Limpopo, aligning them with the technological advancements of the modern world."

Dr Dlamini-Zuma stressed the importance of leveraging the facility to nurture talent capable of tilting the technological scale in favour of those who have been marginalised for decades.

?“It is important that UL continues in this trajectory and to act as a conduit for change so that rural communities are not left behind as it has been always. The impact of this initiative will be felt for decades to come, and, as Chancellor, I am particularly proud to be part of this family.”

Simon Lee, President and CEO of Samsung Africa, lauded the partnership as a meaningful effort to address challenges faced by the Limpopo Province, including unemployment. Lee expressed the programme's ultimate goal of enhancing employment opportunities and emphasised the crucial role played by private sector and government collaborative efforts in changing the lives of ordinary citizens.

"We aspire for this initiative to unlock new opportunities for unemployed youth in the province. At Samsung, we are genuinely thrilled to collaborate with UL and government, confident that this partnership will bring about transformative changes in the lives of the people," added Lee.

Representing the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition (Dtic), Jacob Maphutha, Chief Director, B-BBEE Unit, lauded the University on its commitment to improving lives. He highlighted the positive impact of the partnership, noting that at least 25 and more young people would benefit in the coming years.

"We hope for the continued sustainability of this programme and partnership. The innovation lab presents a unique opportunity for individuals to foster innovation and address societal challenges, thereby creating jobs and additional opportunities," said Maphutha.

Prof Mahlo Mokgalong, UL Vice-Chancellor and Principal, celebrated the collaboration, expressing gratitude to all stakeholders involved. He noted the significance of digital integration for students and welcomed the support from companies like Samsung in aligning with University’s digital aspirations.

"This lab is inclusive, extending its benefits not only to our students but also to communities at large. As we progress with this initiative, our aspiration is to ensure a larger segment of the youth benefits, starting with the first 25 participants this year," clarified Prof Mokgalong.

One of the selected few students already enrolled in the programme, Mulalo Tshigoba, from Thohoyandou, in the Vhembe District, who already has a small company dealing with software development, stated, "I hope this programme will give me ideas to grow my business and contribute to the economy of my village."

This LDIL marks the third university partnership that Samsung has fostered under its software development programme. The University of the Western Cape (UWC) programme for instance, started in 2019, and in 2020, a partnership with University of the Witwatersrand’s (WITS) Tshimologong Digital Precinct was formed. Ultimately, the key objectives of this latest partnership are to achieve a greater reach in ICT training and development, and create employment opportunities for the youth in Limpopo.

By Johannes Selepe


Date created: 2024-03-12 15:33:28