Kathy Gibson is at the Mighty Comms graduation – Hard work has paid off for 20 students who enter a new life in the information and telecommunications industry today following their graduation as fully-fledged ICT technicians and pre-sales consultants.

The students all completed IT systems training offered by Mighty Comms and certified by the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA).

Refilwe Marumo, MD of Mighty Comms, drove the training.

The company identified a need for five IT technicians within the company, which soon grew to a full class of 20 students.

“I learned a lot from the experience,” says Marumo.

“At Mighty Comms we have a philosophy of ‘each one, teach one’ – and I have learnt so much from the students.

“The students have grown so much as well: and they will walk into any company and do well, because they have learnt important values.”

She explains there the course was tailored specifically for the ICT industry. “There was no relevant course offered by MICT SETA, but they gave us the opportunity to define this training.”

Once they completed six months of classroom learning, the youngsters set out on three- to six-month experiential internships at various companies, with five of them hosted by ALE.

Marumo pays tribute to the partners who came to the party to give the students practical workplace experience, adding real-world learning to the classroom theory.

Moreno Ciboldi, senior vice-president: Europe and South Africa at ALE, flew in from Milan to take part in the graduation ceremony.

“I am impressed and delighted to be here with you,” he says.

ALE is a French company, owned by a Chinese firm and represented in 50 countries around the world.

“Next year we are celebrating our 100-year anniversary,” Ciboldi says. “We are making the investment to be a market leader for the years ahead.”

ALE is designing, developing and deploying communications and data networks that improve lives for business and individuals.

“The cornerstone of the organisation is innovation,” he adds. “We have won five Nobel prizes in our history. We invested the transistor and the laser to mention just two.

“To be in this position, we have to have people who ae skilled, capable and certified in our own organisation as well as in our business partner community.”

He adds that the Mighty Comms programme is important as a way to invest in the future of ALE in South Africa. “South Africa for us is part of the top 15 countries where ALE is focusing.

“So we need to have pre-saes, field engineers highly qualified and certified to deploy networks like those in City of Cape Town and City of Tshwane.

“More importantly this is an opportunity to invest in young people, giving them the opportunity to have a new life. This is part of our overall strategy to invest in a new generation everywhere in the world,” he adds.

“You are the ones who will make a difference in our business in the future,” he tells students. “And education is the only way to guarantee a brighter future for the country.”

Ciboldi adds that the ALE certification received by students is internationally-recognised.

Knowledge is power, and is a result of extensive reading and experience, says John Pickering, chief operating officer of Incentage.

“Knowledge will give us leaders of the future and ensure a better life for everybody.”

Incentage monitors and processes financial messages with a daily value in South Africa of R90-billion.

The company sponsors several learning initiatives in South Africa, and took on four of the Mighty Comms learners over the last six months, teaching them about the world of banking.

“Life for our trainees is going to be very different in the future,” Pickering says. “There are many instance of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming prevalent. Quantum computing is another technology that will affect the world hugely. And blockchain technology is already a reality today.”

Pickering says he’s learnt a lot from his four learners, and that they have learnt a lot about the financial sector from him.

IT is a very rewarding career, Pickering adds. “But it often means long hours, working on weekends and public holidays. My father always told me to work hard and play hard; and this is advice I would give to all the students.

“Thank you for the opportunity to pass on some of my knowledge to my team.”

Life Sense, took on two learners in the role of IT support.

Allan McGonigle, a director at Life Sense, says that he passed on problems to the youngsters and often learnt new and innovative solutions from them.

“We would give them information, point them at tasks, and let them figure things out,” he adds. “We are privileged to have had them.”

Learner Simon Skosana, speaking on behalf of the youngsters, thanks Mighty Comms and the sponsoring companies that made this opportunity possible.

“It has been a rough journey but a very fruitful one,” he says. “We can all agree that achievement comes with hard work.

“We came with different thoughts, beliefs and backgrounds: we are all different, but have so much to offer each other and learn from each other.

“When conflict arose we always found ways to solve it, and learned how to conduct ourselves in such situations.”

He adds that IT and business are partners, and need one another to be able to function. “We had to learn how to conduct ourselves in the business environment.”

When the journey started, students were hoping for employment, but they have gained much more in terms of skills and learning, Skosana says.

“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation,” he adds. “When you want something to show up in our life, you have the power.”