CHIETA, college and students celebrate successful STEM programme

CHIETA, the Chemical Industrial Education & Training Authority, and the South West Gauteng TVET College, are together celebrating progress in crucial 4IR training following a successful collaboration in the delivery of a Career Guidance and Fourth Industrial Revolution Programme. On 14 October, an awards ceremony was hosted for 100 students who completed the programme at the college’s six campuses.

In the keynote address at the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Buti Manamela, challenged the first cohort of students who benefited from the programme “to be at the forefront of our country’s quest to move from a resource-driven economy to a knowledge-driven one.”

He noted that technological and business innovation are among the factors that require focus, “As we seek to enable our country to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, in our efforts to reboot our economy, and to continue to position our country favourably for the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The Career Guidance and Fourth Industrial Revolution Programme, which took place over 22 days in the June 2021 holidays, was particularly targeted at students from the college who are studying National Certificate (Vocational) courses in business studies and engineering.

Yershen Pillay, CEO of CHIETA, said the programme was introduced in recognition of the rapidly growing need for skills within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and was designed to provide an opportunity for students to improve these skills. “The world of work and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are evolving fast, and it is crucial that students are prepared to step into this world.”

The wide-ranging programme curriculum covered an overall understanding of 4IR and how it impacts the country and the economy; careers in STEM fields; the fundamentals of robotics, the Internet of Things and cloud computing, digitalisation and mobile phones, drones, programming, and artificial intelligence; as well as 3D printing and its applications.

The programme was based at TVET college campuses to improve the students’ employability and to give them a basic understanding of 4IR-related skills, how to access them, and how to apply them within jobs or their own entrepreneurial enterprises.

Manamela emphasised that, “This investment in our country’s young people is particularly urgent if we consider the systemic challenge of youth unemployment and the related challenge of ensuring that we attract the requisite numbers of young people, and in particular young girls, into STEM subjects at basic education level.”

 

He added, “However, it is also important for us to understand that our effort to empower young people with STEM-related skills is not just aimed at improving their knowledge levels and employability, which of course is important. But we are also making this investment in our young people because we want to shift the South African economy from being primarily resource-driven to a knowledge-driven economy.”

Both Manamela and Pillay congratulated the students on their achievements in the programme and encouraged them to continue to build their skills in 4IR. Pillay said, “Careers of the future will largely be STEM-based, and a STEM education will ensure that our young people are employable. Right now, South Africa has a critical shortage of scientists and engineers, and it is for these reasons that initiatives such as the Career Guidance and Fourth Industrial Revolution Programme are crucial.”

Pillay encouraged all individuals and organisations that are stakeholders in the successful future of South Africa, to prioritise further collaborative STEM-based skills development initiatives. This dire need for an increase in opportunities for students to access STEM training was emphasised by the fact that the college received over 600 applications for the programme, but could only accommodate 150.

Manamela commended the South West Gauteng TVET College and the Chemical Industrial Education & Training Authority for successfully delivering the Career Guidance and Fourth Industrial Revolution Programme.

Highlighting the global perspective on 4IR, in a focus article, the World Economic Forum states, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to one another. It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances… The Fourth Industrial Revolution is about more than just technology-driven change; it is an opportunity to help everyone, including leaders and people from all income groups and nations, to harness converging technologies to create an inclusive, human-centred future. The real opportunity is to look beyond technology and find ways to give the greatest number of people the ability to positively impact their families, organisations, and communities.”

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