As part of its commitment to help universities to address the skills gap and build the pool of qualified engineers in South Africa, particularly within telecommunications, Jasco ICT, a division of the Jasco Group, has come on board as one of the sponsors of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Broadband Networks at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Jasco has dedicated resources towards ensuring that students in the telecoms engineering sector receive the education, exposure, opportunities and experience they need to secure employment and contribute positively to the local economy.
The CoE is a national initiative, started by Telkom in conjunction with industry and government in 1997. The aim of these Centres is to impart knowledge and develop skills in science, engineering and technology. The idea is for corporates such as Jasco, to provide sponsorship for these students and the Centres, such as the CoE at UCT, and offer selected students the opportunity to gain exposure through a variety of platforms.
Says Neco Ventura, head of the Centre of Excellence for Broadband Networks at the UCT: “The CoE at UCT is an interdisciplinary Centre for research into advanced networking systems, specialising in broadband networks and applications. It helps students not only to learn the skills they need to become employable but also to address a trend in today’s market away from simply box dropping products towards delivering value added end-to-end integrated solutions. By giving students the practical, real-world experience they need, UCT’s CoE enables students to develop the skills necessary to plan, design, integrate, maintain and support innovative and inspiring solutions.’
Ben Steyn, executive head of Sales, Jasco Carrier Networks adds: “Jasco ICT is a value added reseller of solutions comprising of infrastructure and equipment, including integration. As such these skills are vital to the company. We need more local skills who are able to do this, not only to empower our youth but to lessen our reliance on imported skills and to boost our own economy.’
“For the past six years, first as Telesciences and now as the more powerful Jasco entity, we have sponsored through the CoE students who are studying in the broadband technology area. This not only helps to skill the student up, but also benefits our organisation since we will have access to engineers and computer scientists with the certifications and skills needed to provide relevant support in access, network and transmission technology, which are Jasco ICT’s areas of specialisation,’ he adds.
CoE students are also given the opportunity to present a paper in their particular field at the prestigious annual Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC), allowing the students to showcase their skills to potential employers. This is an excellent networking occasion, since all of the top players in the telecoms community partake in the event. It also gives the students the chance to keep up to date with the latest trends and technological innovations.
Joyce Mwangama, a PhD student at UCT, is one of the individuals for whom the programme has helped to realise their dreams. As a result of the corporate sponsorship through the CoE she has been able to complete her undergraduate and Master’s studies and has recently begun to work on her PhD. For her doctoral thesis Mwangama is conducting research into the concept of mobile broadband networks, something which is highly topical and is currently gaining momentum in the local telecoms industry.
“The CoE has assisted me in my studies by hiring me as a research assistant, which enables me to finance my studies. It has provided me with all of the resources and assistance I need and the ideal environment within which to conduct my research,’ Mwangama says.