South Africa is currently in the throes of an unemployment crisis and the country’s unemployment rate is currently the highest on a global list of 82 countries, according to Bloomberg. This is the result of the country’s economic stagnation, and the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped matters. At present, more than 7 million South Africans are out of work and their numbers are increasing every day.
In 2019, Global Citizen and Cisco announced a three-year partnership to “equip advocates and activists around the world with the 21st century skills and tools they will need to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the most marginalized. of the world “. And that’s the kind of initiative that could help with this crisis.
Cisco currently operates the Cisco Networking Academy, a training program that partners with educational institutions to help people with the right skills thrive in the digital economy. The Cisco Networking Academy operates in 1,025 institutions in 42 African countries. In 2018, at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg, Cisco pledged to prepare an additional 10 million students around the world to work and thrive in the digital economy over the next five years.
Global Citizen spoke to Cisco Engagement Recipient Sharon Khoza about her journey to Siyafunda – one of the institutions operated by the Cisco Networking Academy in South Africa, which uses “digital technologies to support community, economic, educational and social development” – and the work it is currently doing in the IT field.
Citizen of the World: As a young person starting to look for a job in South Africa, what was that experience like for you?
Sharon khoza: It’s hard. It’s really hard here. Because millions of people are sitting at home just waiting for the chance to do something worth doing, so when you get the chance it’s so amazing. It’s a new experience and you may be overwhelmed, but I have been very passionate about teaching from a young age so I was ready.
And then in 2019, you stumbled upon Siyafunda and the Cisco Networking Academy. How did it go and what did it mean to you?
Before coming to Siyafunda, I went to computer school. And then I had to stop because there was no work. I sent my resume to so many places, but there just wasn’t any work anywhere. So my mom was worried about me because obviously sitting at home I was starting to get depressed and all kinds of things. She suggested that I go to Siyafunda instead of staying at home all day. When I got there everyone was so eager to help. I remember asking someone if learning digital skills would be difficult and they assured me that I would adapt quickly. So I started and I learned a lot about the basics of computers and then coding and programming. This is how I discovered Siyafunda and started to learn more about Cisco.
What is your career like now and how have you grown as a result?
In high school, I never imagined I would work in this space. I am happy to be this young woman in the computer field. Because I experience such exposure. I have new opportunities to learn and grow because the [best] thing is to learn. And I’m also learning that giving back to my community and to young people is the most important thing. I can’t wait to teach more people who are like me. Right now my future looks really bright, so I’m very happy.
Before that, have you ever imagined a future in technology?
No, I didn’t. When I went to learn in the computer center after school, I was just learning to use a computer and use those skills in the career that I am pursuing in the future. I didn’t know I would end up being so deep in it; I didn’t know I would be here and I’m happy with it.
And you are now helping to develop other young people. What is it for you, and why is it important to you?
My aim and end goal is to teach digital skills to people, not just young people – all unemployed people, older people and anyone who is interested. So for me, it’s very inspiring to see someone who is ready to learn. It makes me very happy. I also really enjoy teaching and it’s a chance for me to put something that I’m very passionate about to use. It is very important to me because I have been in their shoes and I know exactly what they are going through.
What does it mean to you to be part of the legacy of the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 through Cisco?
In short, incredible.
What would you say to all the Global Citizens in South Africa and beyond who have acted for Mandela 100 and continue to act now?
Thank you very much, you have changed my life.