Skilled school-leavers will contribute to Samsung’s goal of developing 10 000 electronics engineers in Africa by 2015.
Today, the second class of the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy’s Grade 12 students graduated at a ceremony held at the Kempton Park Civic Hall. The academy was launched two years ago in South Africa to fast-track African youths into the electronics job market – part of Samsung’s goal to develop 10 000 electronics engineers on the African continent by 2015.
The graduates and guests were addressed by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, “Technical education is a cornerstone of any aspiring developing country. Through its Electronics Engineering Academy program, Samsung is capacitating our country’s technical backbone. I hope that other companies will learn from this initiative so together we can increase the number of graduates who are technically skilled when they leave school”.
The University of Johannesburg is committed to supporting the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy program in recognition of the advanced capabilities of its graduates and its overall contribution to skills development in South Africa. Discussions are currently underway with Samsung on getting the program accredited and officially endorsed by the University.
Special recognition for top achievers
Each of the graduates received a certificate of completion, and those who achieved over 80% received a certificate of achievement. The top three students in each grade walked away with various Samsung gadgets. The overall top achiever with the highest marks of all the students attending the Academy in 2012 was Refiloe Machaba – who was also the overall top achiever in 2011.
Graduates to help fill industry demand for technical skills
The Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy program is a critical part of Samsung’s vision to secure its sustainability on the continent by building a skilled pool of resources from which to draw its employees from. And, at the same time, the program is making a contribution to the continent’s growth by helping it develop the technical skills it needs to support the leap into the competitive global economy.
The Academy, situated in Boksburg, provides 240 Grade 10 to Grade 12 students from eight participating technical high schools as well as 320 students from four Further Education and Training (FET) colleges in the Ekurhuleni municipality with free, hands-on, vocational skills training. The students attend the Academy after school for two hours every day of the week. The program comprises basic, intermediate and advanced engineering skills aligned to the students’ curriculum at school. The coursework is developed in consultation with the Electrical Technology Facilitator in the district so that the Academy introduces students to industry appropriate skills, tools and equipment.
“South Africa is faced with an urgent need to fill the supply and demand gap that has emerged between industry’s need for technical skills and the number of students that enter the job market each year possessing these skills, ” says Maengdal Bae, MD, Samsung Africa. “So today it is heartwarming to know that these graduates have not only been equipped with the world-class skills to build a better future for themselves– but that they will also play an integral part in driving our economy forward”
Samsung believes that high quality technical and vocational education is critical as it not only enables graduates to forge a decent livelihood, but to ‘do’ – to provide the skills their countries desperately need to build infrastructure and support local industry. Unfortunately, FET colleges in South Africa are typically under-resourced, and students are being trained on outdated technologies, using archaic tools. In response, Samsung has included local FET colleges in its program, put in place strong ‘in-house’ standards for the Academy, and ensured that students have access to state-of-the-art technology.
Samsung Electronics Engineering Academies have also been launched in Kenya and Nigeria, contributing towards the development of a pool of engineering schools on the continent. The program will be rolled out in Ethiopia and Cote D’Ivoire this year, and will be scaled to other African countries over the next few years.
Goal to provide employment to all graduates
The Academy provides those learners who do not have the opportunity to attend tertiary education with skilled, well-paying job opportunities – supporting the South African government’s drive to address the problem of youth unemployment. Last year, 100% of graduates were placed in positions at Samsung’s service centre, knock-down plant and call centre partners in Gauteng. The program aims to continue this placement trend for the Class of 2012 graduates.
“Our ability to provide graduates with employment is only possible because of the nature of the Academy program, which is focused on preparing students for the world of work, says Bae. “Our curriculum is unique in that it is completely relevant to the electronics industry – the future employers of our graduates. Our partners readily place our graduates because they know they have benefited from world-class and completely up-to-date training”.
Past matriculates also welcome
And Samsung has also taken into consideration young people outside of the formal education system – matriculates of years past who have ended up unemployed or in menial jobs. Through its partnership with the National Economic Education Trust (NEET), the Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy has opened its doors to ‘out-of-school’ youth who matriculated with good Maths and Science grades but have been unable to find suitable jobs. By giving them the opportunity to attend special classes – also at no cost- Samsung is addressing another major challenge faced in South Africa, where the formal education system often does not equip students with the practical skills that will secure them good jobs.
The Samsung Electronics Engineering Academy program is part of the company’s global ‘Hope for Children’ initiative, which places a strategic focus on bringing attention to the worldwide need for childhood education and healthcare in an effort to improve communities worldwide.