South Africa: Microsoft 4Afrika initiative aimed at improving job prospects for the young unemployed

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Microsoft has launched a campaign aimed at helping 3,000 graduates find information technology jobs in South Africa, where one in four workers is officially unemployed.

The software giant will partner with the South African government’s job creation fund to train the youths and place them in permanent employment.

“We cannot let an entire generation of young people become long-term unemployed,” said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president of Microsoft International.

The company will act as a link between universities and IT companies that they will approach to determine needed skills.

Despite it being the continent’s largest and wealthiest economy, South Africa is reeling under chronic joblessness.

Officially, 25% of the people who could be employed have no job, of whom 70% are young people.

The expanded joblessness rate, which includes people who have given up looking work, paints an even bleaker picture with nearly 37% of South Africans unemployed.

Two years ago South Africa established a Rand 9 bn ($900m) jobs fund to create at least 150,000 jobs by 2015. To date some 20,000 new jobs have been created.

For the 3,000 jobs it is targeting, Microsoft is investing R146m  ($14.6m) as part of its $75m pan-African initiative.

“It is very clear for us as a company, if we want to be relevant, if we want to sustain our growth as a company, we have to work in partnership with many constituencies in Africa,” Courtois told AFP.

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