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Microsoft to train 300,000 SA youth in AI

A partnership with Youth Employment Service (YES) is intended to foster employability and economic growth.

As many as 300,000 young South Africans will be given Artificial Intelligence (AI) training through an AI Youth Training Platform, to empower them with digital skills, in order to foster employability and economic growth.

The Platform is an extension of a long-term relationship between Microsoft South Africa and Youth Employment Service (YES). It was announced at Microsoft South Africa’s A New Era with AI event in Sandton yesterday, attended by more than 1,000 IT professionals and developers.

YES and Microsoft have curated and developed bespoke training material, creating a training path that addresses the different levels of exposure to AI and computer science. The platform is designed to enable all young people to get access to, and awareness of AI – and be able to build skills from novice through to expert level.

For many, the world of AI is foreign. Recognising this gap, the introductory AI learning module was designed to provide an entry-level view of AI to the youth, with the focus being on highlighting the purpose and value of AI to students in a practical, yet accessible manner.

Kalane Rampai, Ravi Naidoo, CEO of YES and Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa

“This collaborative effort with Microsoft is a testament to our ongoing commitment to equipping the youth with the digital skills for future-facing sectors and careers” said Ravi Naidoo, CEO of YES. “The significant number of beneficiaries underscores the scale of impact we want to achieve through this partnership.”

From a practical level, this partnership is geared towards creating a surge in job creation and enhanced employability to make significant strides for the country to put in place a more digitally inclusive economy.

Lillian Barnard, president of Microsoft Africa, said: “Together with YES, we are not only addressing the pressing issue of youth unemployment but also helping create a culture of innovation and employability through digital capability building. Microsoft’s approach to AI is based on meaningful innovation, empowering people, and responsibility. This partnership delivers on these three pillars as the means to grow a new talent pool for digital businesses to tap into not only in South Africa, but the rest of the world.”

As young people exit the formal training programme at YES, they will have an awareness of how AI can improve how they work and how this could become a career or profession moving forward. 

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