South Africa's first converged telecommunications operator Neotel today announced the graduation of 24 students from its Academy. The Academy was launched in 2007 in response to South Africa's continued skills shortage in the telecommunications industry and to bridge the gap between what the industry is delivering and what is truly needed in terms of skills development. During the graduation ceremony, which is taking place at Neotel's Midrand Campus, the students will be addressed by Deputy Minister of Communications, Dina Pule.
The academy in conjunction with National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) was designed to develop a pool of expertise in the ICT sector in response to the current skills shortage and competency gaps of the growing telecommunications market in South Africa. It is run in close collaboration with and is accredited by ISETT Seta.
It was launched in 2007 with 10 students as part of a pilot programme. The full academy was launched in March 2008 with 27 students enrolled. Entry requirements to the academy are Grade 12 Certificate and N6 from technical college in Electrical Engineering.
According to Ajay Pandey, MD and CEO of Neotel, the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) and Neotel worked closely in aligning the course to ensure the qualification is equivalent to NQF5 as there is currently no telecommunications qualification at that level. "Today is yet another milestone in the short history of Neotel in South Africa as we graduate 24 learners from the first full-time Neotel Telecommunications Learnership Programme," says Pandey.
"The course is designed to prepare graduates to be effective from the day they enter the work place," he says. "We are planning on increasing the level of collaboration with Further Education and Training Colleges (FETs) to allow them to eventually offer the course nationally. This project is much broader than the scope of our licence obligations to increase the impact we have on society." The Academy is aimed at establishing and maintaining a centre of excellence for the development and advancement of telecommunications skills in South Africa. "As the innovative telecommunications challenger, we know that the right high-quality skills are critical to us in achieving our objectives in the market," says Pandey. "We therefore established this Academy to develop a broad pool of telecommunications skills and are actively working to create sustainable employment opportunities for learners by equipping them with everything they need to operate effectively in the sector."
Neotel plans to expand the academy to include entrepreneurial development, which in turn will empower them to run projects such as internet cafes and sell community phone services.
"The academy is part of Neotel's strategy to create and develop local talent. It is profoundly sustainable, with a strong emphasis on technical and professional training, mentorship and on-the-job training and reiterates our commitment to incubate skills and develop local top talent that will respond to the needs of the market immediately," says Pandey. "We are confident that the Neotel Academy will make a meaningful contribution by accelerating access to new technologies, empowering the people of South Africa and creating a better life for all its citizens," he concludes.