Ford Motor Company of Southern is making a significant contribution towards developing basic computer literacy by launching a community information technology (IT) centre as a new addition to the ground-breaking Ford Resource and Engagement Centre (FREC).
The new IT Centre is located in a specially converted shipping container, and will take 24 students at a time when classes commence at the end of the first quarter of 2018. It complements the existing FREC facility at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria that was launched in May 2016 by the Ford Motor Company Fund and local NPO Future Families.
“Basic computer literacy is an essential skill that enables people to gain employment, and assists entrepreneurs with developing a sustainable business,” says Casper Kruger, Managing Director of Ford Motor Company’s Sub Saharan Africa region. “By adding this IT Centre to the innovative Ford Resource and Engagement Centre, we will be empowering and uplifting the community to find jobs and create their own new business opportunities.
“This is crucial in South Africa which has a high level of unemployment, particularly amongst the youth,” Casper adds. “The IT Centre will bolster our existing FREC community development projects that have already enrolled more than 200 participants in a variety of meaningful and far-reaching courses that are changing and improving their lives, and hopefully leading to the creation of further employment opportunities.”
Introduced as the second resource centre of its kind, modelled after the original Ford Resource and Engagement Centre in Southwest Detroit, the Pretoria FREC forms part of a five-year, R56-million ($4-million) investment in community building across the African continent, with around R12-million allocated to South Africa.
The local centre has already made important inroads, having benefitted more than 200 participants to date. A total of 105 people completed the Financial Literacy Course, with 25 selected and enrolled for entrepreneurship training. A further 20 people received training in commercial carpet cleaning, and six are currently learning how to produce tomatoes in hydroponic tunnels.
Additionally, FREC has two 12-month early childhood development (ECD) courses underway, catering for 51 participants. This will make an important contribution to pre-school learners in impoverished communities, giving them a solid educational foundation before progressing into primary school.