An Impact Assessment of the DBSA/ SALGA ICT Internship Programme: A Case Study
The aim of this descriptive and evaluative research study is to assess the impact achieved by the DBSA/ SALGA ICT Internship Programme, a national local government internship programme that was undertaken by South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) Development Fund in partnership with the South African Communication Forum (SACF), Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and SIEMENS Ltd Training Institute.A supply-side internship programme in nature, its strategic objectives were to train and equip young South Africans with ICT skills, give youth learners workplace experience in the ICT functional area within their respective municipalities, create employment opportunities for youth and economic development for local municipalities in alleviation of scarce-critical ICT skills to capacitate the local government sector.Forty (x40) learners from Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges were recruited from various rural municipalities to undertake ICT training with SIEMENS Training Institute and given workplace experiential learning with fifteen x15 host municipalities under the banner of the South African Local Government Association. This descriptive and evaluative study is undertaken in a case study format with particular interest in the retention levels of graduate learners endowed with scarce skills in the context of the skills challenges facing the local government sector. The study also focuses on unique challenges and interventional measures that could be undertaken by designers of public education and training programmes to ensure efficiency of internship programmes and optimal benefit of publicly-funded internship programmes to youth learners. This research study not only has internal validity in terms of the operational delivery of internship programmes but also external contextual importance for publicly-funded learning and placement programmes within the larger human resources development (HRD) domain and local government sector. In the process of conducting the study, stratified random sampling is utilised due to the multi-stakeholder nature of the programme. A stratified survey sample comprising fifty percent (50%) of the total survey population of forty (40) former ICT learners who participated in the internship programme is selected whilst a sample of sixty percent (60%) of the fifteen (15) host municipalities who participated in the programme is also selected using stratified random sampling. The findings of the study indicate that participation in the DBSA/ SALGA ICT Internship Programme has positively promoted the employability of former ICT learners. All ICT learner respondents confirmed current employment within the ICT functional area. Research findings indicate that the local government sector has derived short term retention and benefit from the programme but has not been able to retain the skills of the majority of former ICT learners in the long term. Although most of the former ICT learners have since migrated out of the local government sector, most former learners are still employed in the ICT field within the public sector and to some extent in the private sector of the South African economy. The study found out that most learners were able to assimilate and find employment within their host municipalities or were able to find ICT-related employment soon after graduation. The research findings of this impact assessment study indicate that the DBSA/ SALGA ICT Internship Programme has positively transformed young inexperienced graduates into responsible young adults through the development of key life skills and work experiences to enable them to successfully navigate the path between the classroom and the challenging world of work.