Empowering township and rural skills development

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Mziwoxolo Mayedwa, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Siseko Technologies, is a man on a mission to uplift those who are not always given a chance to fulfill their potential

Siseko Technologies is a company that provides innovative technology-related skills development in townships and rural areas.

Its mission is to lead the information and communication technology sector by providing relevant skills development to improve the socio-economic conditions of its beneficiaries.

The institution currently offers seven accredited IT qualifications as part of its curriculum. These qualifications are accredited by the Media, Information, and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA), which is a public entity established in terms of the Skills Development Act.

The brains behind Siseko Technologies is Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mziwoxolo Mayedwa.

Mayedwa’s vision is to improve the lives of those living in townships and rural areas by upskilling them to the point where they can make a difference themselves within their communities—and create a sustainable future.

”I believe that candidates should choose Siseko Technologies because as a company we are committed to advancing their ICT careers. We focus on providing the right skills that are needed to create a better future,” Mayedwa insists.

Township and rural upliftment

Siseko Technologies’ focus is to increase the number of technologically-inclined graduates within townships and rural areas. These areas have for too long been at the mercy of superficial training providers, who are not interested in developing these communities, but rather making a quick buck.

A report by the Higher Education Department in 2021 revealed that ‘although the education levels of the South African population have increased significantly over the past decade, only 6% of adults have a degree’. The report also revealed that ‘only 3.4% held technical and vocational education and training (TVET) certificates’.

Mayedwa is determined to make a positive change in this regard.

”Siseko Technologies’ purpose is to bridge the gap of the ‘digital have-nots’ by enskilling them with relevant and accredited information technology qualifications,” Mayedwa reveals.

”The difference that Siseko Technologies makes is reducing social ills experienced by these communities, especially high levels of digital illiteracy. Increasing digital literacy would directly contribute to advancing the much-needed expertise and knowledge in 4IR-related technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.

”The difference that we also seek to make is to ensure that our participants are not only digitally skilled, but can also help in creating digital platforms and/or applications that can support their governments, businesses, and communities. The difference that we make goes beyond just being a digitally inclined person, it also opens the opportunities the digital economy brings.”

Key to this upliftment for Mayedwa is ending the cycle of having unskilled and unqualified people taking up positions which are important to the future success of the country.

Therefore, the qualifications at Siseko Technologies have been crafted to ensure that the right people are upskilled to start making a real difference.

”It is very important to have the right skills in order to carry out the required tasks and activities. The right fit would be able to make projections that would take us forward and benefit the organisations. Part of the problem that we are facing as a country is unskilled and unqualified people are roaming around offices with no idea as to how to take the country forward,” he adds.

Servicing the ICT sector

A major challenge for higher learning institutions is finding work for their graduates once they complete their studies.

While the reality is that the South African economy is unable to produce jobs for everyone, it is important to produce graduates who are as strongly equipped as possible to make a real go of entering the world of work.

This is exactly what Siseko Technologies does for its students and future graduates from day one.

”Our ICT training programmes are coupled with an introduction to entrepreneurship. It’s one thing to be an expert in ICT, but running an ICT company is something else. Our country is a field with highly skilled individuals who are unable to operationalise their qualifications unless a certain entrepreneur employs them.

”If you go to several higher education institution’s libraries, you will be shocked to learn that there are dissertations that have produced novel research results, however, these results have gathered dust because the students are unable to operationalise the so-called research findings through entrepreneurship. Our mandate is not to produce ICT champions, but those who are able to make a means with their ICT qualifications,” Mayedwa says.

As a business, Siseko Technologies is determined to address the shortage of ICT skills in the country, with a specific focus on assisting the youth in creating a better future for themselves and their families.

Mayedwa and his team are also determined to play their part in creating more ICT businesses that can produce digital solutions to address the challenges that are experienced by the government, businesses, and communities.

”In the coming years, I would like to see an increase in digital solutions produced locally so that governments and businesses do not rely on procuring ICT solutions abroad. We do have what it takes, but only if we develop and build capacity with a specific focus on what we need the most. We cannot say 4IR is the future and yet we are not doing anything about it,” Mayedwa insists.

Looking to the future

Mayedwa is clearly leading an instiution which is working hard to solve the many issues the ICT sector and South Africa at large face.

An aim for the future of Siseko Technologies, he says, is to open a fully-fledged technology institution which would be based in presently disadvantaged areas.

There is a lot more on the cards, too.

He adds: ”As an SMME, I do want to put it forward that it is also my goal to collaborate and partner with large enterprises to drive ICT skill development. Just recently, the Department of Home Affairs published the 2022 Critical Skills List and ICT skills was among the skill shortages. The ICT skills shortage cuts across all sectors. Whether it’s manufacturing, agriculture, construction, or mining, you need ICT skilled personnel to fix business shortcomings, hence, it is part of my goal to persuade various business sectors to partner with Siseko Technologies.”

And we have full faith that Mayedwa will achieve his goals and continue to make the difference we need as a nation.

Who is Mziwoxolo Mayedwa?

Mziwoxolo Mayedwa is the Founder and CEO of Siseko Technologies. He is also a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) under the Department of Information Systems. At UWC, Mayedwa also serves on the Economic and Management Economics Student Affairs (EMSSA) committee. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in Information Systems (IS) at the University of Cape Town. Mayedwa completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration at UWC, including a Bachelor of Commerce specialising in IS. Recently, he completed a certificate in Supply Chain Management at Stellenbosch University and obtained a certificate on Fourth Industrial Revolution for Professionals in Business from the University of Johannesburg. Mayedwa has been a qualified lifesaver since the 1990s under Lifesaving South Africa, where he is also a volunteer Director of Drowning Prevention. Away from work, Mayedwa is an avid golfer who also enjoys swimming and cycling.

Siseko Technologies’ seven accredited IT qualifications

• National Certificate in Information Technology: End User Computing Level 3;

• Further Education and Training Certificate in Information Technology: Technical Support Level 4;

• Further Education and Training Certificate in Information Technology: Systems Development Level 4;

• National Certificate in Information Technology: Systems Support Level 5;

• National Certificate in Information Technology: Systems Development Level 5;

• National Certificate in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Software Testing Level 5; and

• National Certificate in Business Analysis Support Practice Level 5.