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Case study: Rapid Needs Assessment for Digital and Future Skills for Decent Jobs for Youth in OR Tambo District Municipality


The rapid technological growth caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is changing the way we live. Most people now use digital technologies daily, and digital literacy has become an essential skill, particularly in the workplace. Basic digital skills are now a prerequisite, even for most entry-level jobs, and can help young people to access opportunities. However, many young people, especially in low-income communities are excluded from these developments and struggle to overcome the digital divide.

TRi Facts supported the United Nations Development Programme with a needs assessment for digital and future skills for decent jobs for youth. 

The research focused on the OR Tambo District Municipality (ORTDM), located in the Eastern Cape province along the coastline, a pilot municipality of the government’s District Development Model. South Africa has one of the highest levels of unemployment in the world and rural regions are particularly affected. Since the beginning of the national lockdown in March 2020, the Eastern Cape province has reported the highest unemployment rates. 63% of individuals 15 years and older in ORTDM were not economically active, approximately 1.5 times the national rate.

TRi Facts conducted a needs assessment for digital skills for the economy of ORTDM to reach three main objectives:

  • Understand the need for digital skills for decent jobs for youth in the future.

  • Thoroughly map out the short-term and long-term digital skills needed in the district.

  • Recommend a specific approach and delivery mechanism to equip youth with digital skills.

The study identified that basic end-user digital skills are currently the most needed to ensure the participation of the youth in the digital economy, e.g. using a smartphone or the internet browser. The development of a short-term training programme and interactive sessions for digital skills can help young people to become aware of their potential and equip them with the necessary basic skills. 

It also highlighted a need for longer-term training programmes that are linked to work experience and where possible, employment creation. Utilising existing online platforms or content will be of relevance in providing work readiness programmes and delivering the training. Improving the access to connectivity and potentially lowering data costs plays a crucial role in ensuring that participants can attend the training virtually.

The recommendations are clear in highlighting the need to create more employment opportunities in the municipality. One opportunity is to create jobs that meet the specific needs of the public and private sectors in the form of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Another chance is to unlock the potential of the agricultural sector by supporting entrepreneurs in using digital platforms and tools.