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A BUSINESS OF YOUR OWN

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					A BU S I N E S S O F YO U R OW N :
THE CSDTT PROGRAMME
Team building

Everyone knows that information and communication technology is at the cutting edge of the new world economy of the 21st century. It's an area of rapid growth and job creation worldwide. In South Africa, high levels of unemployment coexist with critical skills shortages. The challenge for this country is how to bridge the gap between those skills needed and the disadvantaged majority of the population. The Centre for Skills Development and Technology Transfer (CSDTT) at the Durban Institute of Technology (DIT) is tackling this difficult problem head on. SSACI is sponsoring 30 young learners from disadvantaged backgrounds through the CSDTT. In essence, the Centre offers a programme designed to teach people how to start up and manage their own small businesses in the ICT sector. The students are predominantly African and female, but with a strong Indian component. After a rigorous selection process testing numeracy, literacy and entrepreneurial flair, the students enter a programme that teaches them the basic IT skills needed to start their own businesses. They proceed to venture creation technology and team building, and courses on basic business skills and life skills. Then they are encouraged to draw up their own business plans and do market research, with a strong emphasis on practical knowledge. The students are also helped with accessing finance via bodies such as Ithala Finance. In the second six months of their training the students are out in the field, running their own businesses. They still attend lectures, and receive support from a structured mentoring programme, drawing on the services of volunteer business people.

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Learning to trust

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The CSDTT business focus is
in line with SSACI’s core strategic objective that projects should assist learners to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible.

The DIT courses offered at the Centre are accredited by SAQA at Level 4, and performance is measured by how many graduates are still successfully in business after two years. The close attention to student needs, and the initial recruitment procedures, ensures that the drop-out rate from the CSDTT courses is minimal. Dedicated staff are on constant call to help students and graduates alike, while weaker students are helped by stronger ones in an organised "buddy" system that produces results. The CSDTT business focus is in line with SSACI's core strategic objective that projects should assist learners to become self-sufficient as quickly as possible. A secondary objective of the CSDTT programme, and a key to sustainability in the longer run, is that the programme offers a model for such venture-creation learnerships that could be replicated on a larger scale by the relevant Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). Not surprisingly, some of the learners on the CSDTT programme come from the ranks of those lucky enough to have jobs, but who have chosen to resign from their jobs in order to pursue, without remuneration, the CSDTT programme, in the hope of becoming self-employed entrepreneurs. And if there is one thing that lies at the heart of any successful economy, it is motivated, trained, job-creating small businesses, particularly in new industrial sectors with a high potential for the future. Thus the theory of SSACI's strategies becomes practice through the CSDTT programme, with happy, optimistic learners and energetic, fully committed staff.
The computer generation

The DIT class of 2003 and mentor


				
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