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SAP Cape Town facility bridges youth digital divide

04 August 2015, 08:52Savious Kwinika

Cape Town  - Global software giant, SAP has inaugurated its auditorium at the Cape Town Science Centre in yet another move aimed at addressing the scarcity of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills among local youth.

Robert Enslin, President of Global Customer Operations and Executive Board member of SAP, has launched the facility, joined by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.

The event that took place during National Science Week.

Officials stressed the importance of science and technology education in building a globally competitive modern economy.

Enslin said Africa’s large youth population and positive economic growth potential primes the continent to play a leading role in the Digital Economy.

He said however, successfully navigating the complexities presented by vast amounts of data in today’s hyper-connected world requires excellent STEM skills.

"We urgently need to address the scarcity of STEM skills among our youth," he said.

Speaking at the same ceremony, Pandor said science and technology mattered because the world needs to devise new solutions to sustainable development, so as to provide food, energy and security to local communities.

"We are short of skills and must fill the gap,” she added.

Also Read: Science as a new age

According to data from the World Economic Forum, Africa has the largest youth demographic in the world, with the continent’s working-age population expected to double to one billion people over the next 25 years.

However, less than 1 percent of African children leaving school have basic mathematical and science skills.

Enslin said it was critical for forward-looking businesses invested in the future to partner with government and educational institutions to foster a culture of learning and skills development among youth.

“We need to collectively start addressing the serious skills shortage by creating opportunities for youth to learn new skills that will make them marketable when it comes time to seek employment," he said.

He said for the next decade, Africa will add 11 million people to its workforce every single year.

As the fastest-growing digital consumer market, and with a wealth of young labour, Africa is seen as perfectly poised to take a lead in the Digital Economy.

"But we need to ensure our youth are properly trained, especially in the ICT sphere, and prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that the Digital Economy can offer,” Enslin added.

Meanwhile, at the launch of the auditorium, a group of children from West Riding Primary School in Cape Town also showed off their newly-learned technology skills with a live Africa Code Week coding demonstration.

Julie Cleverdon, Director of the Cape Town Science Centre, said these kinds of interactive experiences helped to foster a strong passion for maths and science among the youth.

The centre offers a platform for science and education awareness that is used by many other organisations and NGOs that are involved with educating local youth.

"We have enjoyed SAP’s invaluable support since 2011 via a host of initiatives, including volunteering, sponsorship and mentorship,” Cleverdon said.

SAP also recently announced Africa Code Week that will take place across 15 countries from 1 to 10 October.

The programme, which is a foundation for SAP’s Skills for Africa initiative, will see an estimated 20 000 children across the continent, ranging in age from 8 to 24 years, participating in software coding workshops. 

- CAJ News


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