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Tesserai launches AI, cloud, RPA academy

By , Africa editor
South Africa , 23 Feb 2024
Varsha Ramesar, head of data for Tesserai.
Varsha Ramesar, head of data for Tesserai.

Tesserai, a Johannesburg-based enterprise information, business intelligence, and analytics company, has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) academy with a focus on cloud, analytics, robotic process automation, and optical character recognition.

The academy is targeting South African graduates, and it mixes theory with practical projects, alongside internship opportunities to provide job experience in AI.

Tesserai, a Mettus organisation, says it helps businesses to accelerate growth and manage risks by increasing internal data literacy and decision-making through the use of data.

Varsha Ramesar, head of data for Tesserai, told ITWeb Africa that the organisation prioritised these skills since they are important today but are also critical for the future.

The academy's unveiling coincides with an increase in the country's unemployment rate, which currently stands at 32.1%, according to the most recent StatsSA data. South Africa's unemployment rate climbed from 4.8 million to 7.9 million over the last decade.

To this end, Ramesar says: “As you become proficient in AI, you become highly sought-after in the job market. Industries like healthcare, finance, technology, and many others are integrating AI to enhance efficiency and innovation. If you're skilled in AI, you're not just riding the wave of the future; you're steering it.

She says being skilled in AI is not just about coding and algorithms. “It's about being at the forefront of innovation. It opens doors to exciting career opportunities and gives you the ability to shape the way industries evolve. It's not just a skill; it's a passport to the future of technology and business.”

Turning to the state of the South African tech skills ecosystem, Ramesar warns about the pipeline of academic performance in the sciences. “It's disheartening to observe the widening disparity between the educational offerings in private schools and what is accessible to the broader population.

“This divergence, in turn, contributes to a significant gap in opportunities, particularly in emerging fields such as AI. Recognising and addressing this divide can pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable landscape, fostering equal access to advancements and opportunities for more of our population.”

Ramesar says there are two key areas in which the private sector can close the skills gap: “Firstly, in creating awareness of what the potential future of AI brings and the opportunities that come with it. Secondly, academics and learning institutions need to be supported by practical work experience. As the private sector, we need to create opportunities, like internships, focused on developing work experience in AI.”

To this end, she says that Tesserai has partnered with tech-focused non-profit organisation Empire Partner Foundation (EPF). “The partnership is our effort to redefine the skills landscape in South Africa,” says Ramesar.

She adds: “By bridging the gap between tertiary education and practical workplace skills, the partnership aims to empower the youth with a comprehensive skillset.”

Explaining the partnership to ITWeb Africa, she says: “Each year, the programme will run for a 12-month period. The partnership entails Tesserai working alongside the EPF team, to interview and select candidates for the programme, to jointly define a curriculum and work placement programme, to provide the candidates with work experience, and to continuously mentor, coach and evaluate candidate performance through the 12 months. At the conclusion of each programme, the candidates are positioned for employment.”

Joanna Govender, CEO, EPF, says: “This initiative addresses the scarcity of AI expertise by providing tailored education and practical training, aligning with our commitment to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world skills.” 

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