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Digital Skills Academy opens in Africa

Digital Skills Academy opens in Africa.

Digital Skills Academy, headquartered in Dublin's digital hub, has established an Africa operation in Johannesburg, South Africa to make available training and cloud-based ICT qualifications to local businesses and individuals.

Included in its offering is an international undergraduate online BSc degree programme in integrated digital technology, digital business and digital design.

Its BSc (Honours) in Digital Technology, Design and Innovation is now accepting registrations in South Africa for the next one-year course, which starts in October this year.

According to a media release up to 50 students from South Africa will be accepted into the course, "which blends online eLearning and virtual team-working with local project-team workshops and global peer groups."

SA students will be joined by international participants from countries including the UK, Ireland and Mexico.

Patrick Naughton, digital marketing manager at Digital Skills Academy, said that the Academy wants the 2015 SA intake to achieve "a comparable level of success" to their 2014 graduates. "90% of participants from our honours degree level programme in 2014 achieved their career advancement goals within 4 months of graduating."

Although the Academy has yet to publish details of the Honours Degree programme, which will be offered from March 2016, Naughton says subjects covered will include coding, web development, game development, digital product management, growth hacking, digital sales and marketing, as well as mobile applications development.

Courses are open to anyone with an ordinary degree or equivalent qualification in a related discipline or an Honours Degree or equivalent qualification in a non-related discipline. However, people who do not have these qualifications can also apply on the basis of previous work experience, on the basis of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

The entry of the institutions like this Academy into the local ICT-focused eLearning space is expected to help address the concerns of ICT industry representatives over South Africa's shortage of sought-after technical skills sets.

Professionals and businesses alike have voiced concern about the number of people entering the sector and if enough is being done to develop qualified ICT professionals.

According to the Academy there is an estimated ICT skills shortage of between 30,000 and 70,000 professionals in South Africa and many ICT professions on the National Scarce Skills list private sector partners struggling to attract and retain high level ICT skills.

In January 2015 Alfie Hamid, regional manager for Cisco Corporate Affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa, expressed concern over what he described as a lack of foundation ICT learning to teach the fundamentals of ICT.

Kobus van Wyk, head of eLearning at Mustek, has also questioned the input of ICT companies to assist national and provincial education departments.

Paul Dunne, CEO of Digital Skills Academy, said, "We conducted extensive local research before launching in South Africa, and identified a need for local ICT professionals to access effective ongoing professional development in a format that works within their time constraints. This need for advanced ICT training extends beyond ICT professionals – we have found that sales and marketing professionals, entrepreneurs and business managers working in the ICT field also had an unmet need for further education and training."

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