There comes a time in every young person’s life when they need to start planning for the future – what career path to take, and what subjects to study for success in their chosen field.
At Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, those decisions are made easier through its annual career focus weeks, planned separately for primary schools and high schools. Targeting pupils in grades 9 to 12 and their teachers, the ICT (information and communication technologies) week ran from 2 to 6 September. The aim, said the centre, was to expose pupils to the myriad opportunities available to them in this field.
It explains that the focus weeks are each designed to highlight opportunities and innovation in critical sectors of the South African economy. “The week-long expos include exhibitions, workshops, lectures and presentations and are supported by stakeholders from industry, the government, research councils and educational institutions.”
The first focus weeks were held in 2008. They offer an opportunity for students to interact with professionals and find out first-hand about career opportunities. They can also find out about what is on offer in terms of bursaries, learnerships and admissions into higher education institutions.
During the ICT week, Sci-Bono, which is in the heart of Newtown in Johannesburg, came alive with inspired students and teachers. Technology has grown rapidly over the past 30 years, and the innovations and inventions have brought millions of new opportunities around the world. Also, there are fewer barriers to entry for young students than there are in many other industries.
The idea behind the focus weeks is to promote skills development and increase awareness of and interest in the specific field. Although they target schoolchildren, they are also useful for people already in the working world, and recent matriculants who are unsure of what to study. Students are given information to help them choose the right subjects for their careers – for example, pure mathematics, which is needed for the ICT sector, versus maths literacy.
In planning its focus weeks and other events, Sci-Bono sends proposals to various private sector companies explaining the programmes it plans to run, with the hope of partnering with them to develop the workers of tomorrow.
ICT FOCUS WEEK
For the ICT focus week, the major stakeholders in the sector were on hand, and students were able to interact with representatives from these companies directly.
Workshops were held on a whole range of themes in the ICT industry such as cyber security, ICT careers for people with disabilities, the use of ICT in the media, and opportunities for app developers, among others. Exhibitors included Microsoft, T-Systems, Dell and Bytes Technologies, as well as Damelin and CTU, among other colleges that offer courses in the sector.
Falcon Business Institute promoted the wide range of computer and business courses it offers, from IT systems development and Microsoft Office Specialist to ICB bookkeeping and corporate courses. Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, a boot camp for top-achieving Grade 9 pupils, was also there. It teaches the students game development, programming and leadership skills. Another participant was City Varsity, a private college that offers 15 full-time qualifications in media and digital art in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Sci-Bono Discovery Centre has more events coming up as the academic year winds up, including Grade 9 subject choice, Electronics Club, Earth Science Week, Career Assessment and others. For more information on the Focus Week, visit the Sci-Bono website or email email@example.com. To book school visits, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 011 639 8400.