Dell announces Khulisa IT academy

Dell has announced the launch of an IT academy, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) and the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC).

The Khulisa Academy (which means “nurturing” in isiZulu) is expected to be opened in January 2016, and will attract approximately 20 students per year (a total of 200 in 10 years). The students will be selected from graduates and exceptional matriculants from disadvantaged areas.

Although the academy will be based in Johannesburg, close to the Dell offices at the Campus in Bryanston, candidates from all over the country will be considered. Each student will be at the academy for two years, and the curriculum will include both theoretical and practical aspects, which will be provided through internships.

The candidates will be paid a stipend for the duration of their time at the academy. The graduates of the IT academy will be eligible to work for organisations such as Dell.

Dell will also be offering 50 students with entrepreneurial skills funding to start their own ventures.

The academy aims to produce skills relevant to disruptive technology, such as high performance computing, cloud computing and big data, in order to grow ICT skills in South Africa.

In order for South Africa to be competitive as a nation, companies need to invest in the upskilling of the youth.
“When you put technology in the hands of the youth, great things can happen,” says Stewart van Graan, MD of Dell South Africa.

Partnerships with industry will be key in growing the skills base of the South African youth. Developing support services to big industry, such as ICT, will help to grow the country and the continent.

“We are the main consumers of these technologies, and not producers of these technologies,” says Malebo Mabitje-Thompson, deputy director general at the dti. Government is seeking to address this problem with legislation, such as B-BBEE, and partnerships.

As an example of the support services required, Dr Happy Sithole, director of the Centre for High Performance Computing, cites dealing with the data generated by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). “Dealing with the data will be a challenge. Everything will depend on how best we process our information and make our decisions,” says Dr Sithole. “The skills required to do this will be not only on an engineering level, but also on a social sciences level.”

Dell is investing in excess of R120-million in the academy. The project will be run as a separate entity to Dell, and will be answerable to a board of directors.

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