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Huawei opened the doors of its state-of-the-art innovation centre in Johannesburg recently to its interns looking to learn and network in a career development workshop. This workshop is a key component of Huawei’s 12-month partnership programme with the Department of Labour and Employment (DOEL), now in its second year of implementation.

Employment-seeking matriculants and higher education graduates are recruited from the DOEL’s online database. Once selected, interns receive rigorous on the job training on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). They are assigned a mentor who works closely with them, with the aim of upskilling and gaining formal employment within the Huawei ecosystem.

“The programme with the DOEL has been a win win solution for our business in SA and for government’s impetus to upskill and create youth employment. We operate in a scarce skills sector where highly qualified engineers in technologies like AI, Cloud and 5G are mostly working in more developed markets, so we have to grow the local skills base, which is what we are doing with this DOEL internship programme and others like it,” says Christina Naidoo, Huawei SA COO.

As South Africa marks Youth Month, the reality of a 45% unemployment rate among young people aged 15-34 highlights the imperative for continued and concerted efforts to tackle this pressing challenge. Internships and workplace exposure have a profound impact on young people’s job readiness, with research demonstrating a four-fold advantage in terms of employment success compared to those lacking practical experience.

Kemogotsitse Bosielo, Public Relations Manager for Government Affairs at Huawei was the master of ceremonies on the day.

“Take pride in the work you’ve done to get yourself here,” said Bosielo in his opening address. “We want to take on as many interns as possible, so the aim of today is to share skills and knowledge from Huawei leaders and past interns that will help you take your career to the next level.”

One such leader is Solomon Hlomane, Technical Director at Huawei South Africa and Huawei Ambassador. Speaking to a packed house of engaged interns, he shared his story of how he started out at the company as an IT engineer in 2011.

“Working at Huawei is a journey of continuous learning and upskilling,” he said.

Apart from working across more than 25 projects in his 13 years with the company, he has also secured a Masters in Business Administration from Wits University and is currently pursuing an MSc. in Information Security and Digital Forensics.

“Through hard work and time management skills, you can also advance your career through education at Huawei,” Hlomane added.

Hlomane’s insightful and interactive seminar touched on the essential pillars for building a strong career. These include establishing good professional relationships, growing communication skills, problem solving and networking. His session left interns with tangible examples of how they can stand out today to reach their dreams tomorrow.

These talks form part of Huawei’s efforts to directly transfer skills to youth and close the experience gap for job seekers in the ICT sector.

Another Huawei Ambassador, Marcel Meyer who is the Director of Service Delivery at Huawei Cloud, addressed the interns. As a leader who’s had Huawei interns in his team, he is proud of their work as full-time employees.

“A couple of our interns now work in Angola and Nigeria so if you like to travel, these opportunities are endless if you apply yourself every day,” he said.

Meyer also shared some words that he wished he was told when he started his career: “You don’t always get what you wish for, but you can get what you work for.”

Bosielo then facilitated a question-and-answer session where interns had candid dialogue with senior Huawei leaders. Meyer and Hlomane fielded questions on everything from navigating customer relations to dealing with miscommunication in the workspace. They imparted their advice on how interns can persevere and succeed.

Apart from this collaborative programme with the DOEL, Huawei has built a talent development ecosystem across 15 initiatives that include: the Huawei ICT Academy, the Huawei Graduate programme and Bursary programmes to mention a few. Workshops like these show just how committed Huawei is to cultivating and harnessing ICT talent and changing the narrative on youth unemployment in South Africa.

Two Huawei internship alumni also attended the event to support the 2024 cohort. Theo Mashego, now a Product Technology Engineer at Huawei, started his internship after his postgraduate degree at the University of Mpumalanga. He gained essential project management and networking skills as an intern that still help him with his work today. Like Hlomane, Mashego is hungry to learn more so he’s pursuing a Masters in Computer Science degree.

Another beneficiary of the Huawei internship programme, Alston Govender, now works as a Datacom Engineer for Huawei.

His parting words of wisdom for the next generation was, “As you embark on this journey with a company that’s changing the future as we know it, remember that growth and adaptability are essential.  Learning is a lifelong process and every moment you spend improving yourself is the best investment you can make.”

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