Gauteng Business News

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BUSINESS: Embedding CSI Into the Fabric Of Business


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As South Africa, and many other countries on the continent look to technology to accelerate their growth, there’s a perfect opportunity to frame Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within an IT skills development context writes Gavin Holme.

If we consider the dearth of IT skills in the South African context, the ripple effect is broad. Companies don’t have access to skilled staff and this lack of skilled resources contributes to the high unemployment rate of 26.7%, a statistic from March this year and one of the highest in the world (source: A focus on education is one that is sustainable, not only making a difference in the lives of individuals but also contributing to economic growth and lower unemployment rates.

According to Population Reference Bureau, for the last 50 years, world population multiplied more rapidly than ever before. In 1950, the world had 2.5 billion people which grew to 6.5 billion people in 2005. However, by 2050, this number could rise to more than 9 billion (source: United Nations Population Division, World Population Prospects, The 2008 Revision). In South Africa, the population in 1960 was just under 16m and today, the figure is estimated at approximately 54m (source:

These figures are of concern as unemployment rates could further increase over the years if we do not address the issue of education and skills development now. Organisations must galvanise and prepare not only our current and emerging workforce but also the workforce of South African in 20 years’ time. As per the axiom ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and for South Africa to grow and prosper, the country needs an educated and skilled workforce.

We are very conscious that the future of our African business, and indeed the IT sector and the broader economy-at-large, is inextricably tied to the development of our citizens. To ensure we continue on the right trajectory, we’ve invested significant time and energy in education focused sustainable Corporate Social Investment (CSI).

We believe that all corporates should collectively work towards the challenge and assist to drive educational projects in South Africa. Importantly, these initiatives should be sustainable and one such way is to develop frameworks for education and training that address the learners’ specific needs, empowering them to excel.

One such example is Wipro’s association with Siyapha, a programme that operates at multiple levels, with the golden thread of empowering our young people with the skills and experience to excel in the world of technology. This is one such initiative that supports education at three levels – primary and secondary schools as well as graduates.

Siyapha – meaning ‘to give’ or ‘to share’ in isiXhosa or IsiZulu – has extensively invested in local communities since 2012 and has touched the lives of thousands of individuals. It encompasses flagship programmes at three levels:

• Primary and secondary school – Wipro’s computer labs and library learning incubators are deployed in a sustainable manner to schools in rural areas. Our recent partnership with South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will see the roll-out of computer laboratories to 28 000 learners in 29 schools, over the next 3 years.
• Graduates - our rapidly-expanding internship programme melds classroom training along with exposure to live client projects. Since 2012, over 180 graduates have gone through this highly engaging and often demanding annual programme. Our ultimate goal with this programme is to have a broader base of candidates with a rich set of technology skills along with business acumen. About 80% of the graduates who go through this programme with us receive immediate employment within Wipro.

Organisations need to commit to building a diverse, equitable and sustainable society: it reinforces our conviction that corporations are socio-economic citizens, and that their objectives have to be congruent with society’s goals and the power to do good.


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