01 March 2023 Media Release: The Connected Economy – A Priority Focus Area for the Garden Route Skills Mecca

Media Release: The Connected Economy – A Priority Focus Area for the Garden Route Skills Mecca

For Immediate Release
1 March 2023

The Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) is an important initiative that will help to address skills shortages in the Garden Route district, promote economic growth and development. It will also support the realisation of the overall Growth and Development Strategy of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM).

To explore possible skills development options for the ICT element of the Connected Economy, the Garden Route Skills Mecca Forum convened on February 24th, 2023, with relevant stakeholders during a Quarterly GRSM Forum. The Connected Economy is one (1) of seven (7) priority focus areas of the Growth and Development Strategy of GRDM.

Stakeholders present at the Skills Mecca engagement with the MICT SETA.

The focus area was on the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA). A key question answered during the session was about the skills required in the ICT sector. In answering this, Koos Nieuwoudt, ICT Manager for GRDM in summary said that ICT sector continues to evolve and that new skills are required to meet the needs of the industry. Traditional IT skills such as A+ certifications are no longer sufficient, and companies require professionals who are proficient in AI, robotic process automation, data sciences, analytics, and cybersecurity.

Additionally, Niewoudt also shared that soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and adaptability are essential for success. The smart region strategy, which integrates digital transformation, offers opportunities for the development of skills in areas such as smart governance, infrastructure, security, environment, mobility, and services. However, he also stated that companies must be mindful of the cybersecurity implications of implementing the smart city concept. With the ever-increasing number of connected devices, cybersecurity is a critical concern, and adequate training and resources must be provided to ensure a safe and secure digital environment.

Skills Development Providers recognised 

During the forum, the Garden Route District Municipality recognized eleven skills development providers who had submitted their organization details during an open tender process in 2022 to be considered as pre-approved service providers for Skills Mecca projects and programs in the future. These providers were required to submit proof of accreditation for specific programs considered necessary for the district in the next few years. As part of the recognition process, providers were issued with a Garden Route Skills Mecca Pledge that commits them to support the Skills Mecca.

A further opportunity for service providers to register with the District Municipality as pre-approved service providers will soon be issued as a tender, and all service providers who offer accredited occupational qualifications or skills programs should watch out for it. The Skills Mecca is particularly in need of qualified and experienced mentors to register with the District Municipality to support small companies in the renewable energy (solar) sector.

Editor’s note: The Garden Route Skills Mecca (GRSM) is a concept that originated from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI) in response to the devastating fires that hit the Knysna/Plettenberg Bay district in June 2017. Since 2018, municipalities in the district, along with national and provincial stakeholders, have been working together to implement the GRSM concept as a critical component of the overall Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) of the Garden Route. 

Feature image caption: Stakeholders present in person during the Skills Mecca Engagement with MICT SETA (FLTR): Dr Florus Prinsloo (GRDM Skills Mecca Coordinator), Oscar Martin (Keep the Dream), Rinus van Raai (SA Value Education), Koos Nieuwoudt (GRDM ICT Manager), Basil Myners (BM Skills Development), Raoul Du Toit (Phezukomkhono Training Services), Gerda Rappard (Africa Skills Private College), Iona Kritzinger (GRDM Portfolio Chairperson: Corporate Services), Joanita Martin (Josmap Training), Chane Martin (Josmap Training), Trix Holtzhausen (GRDM Executive Manager: Corporate Services), Reginal Salmons (GRDM Coordinator: Skills Development), Megan van Rensburg (Training Answers), Monique Oranje (Training Answers), Onke Jako (GRDM Skills Mecca Intern).