How Microsoft is Bringing the Power of AI to Graduates

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The Central University of Technology (CUT) of the Free State has introduced Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence programme (AI) to address the demand in the province, and South Africa in general.

“This University programme provides organisations the opportunity to bring on board a groomed AI Engineer with the certified skills and hands-on project experience needed to assimilate into the workplace of the future, quickly and seamlessly,” says Professor Alfred Ngowi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Engagement at CUT.

The programme, developed by Microsoft and delivered by its partner Gijima, has been designed to pass on the skills employers value and need by teaching young multi-disciplined graduates with limited or no work experience to explore, transform, model and visualise data, as well as to create the next generation of intelligent solutions.

“Enabling South African talent with AI training and certification will change the journey and destiny of our country in a period where technology is driving innovation and changing all spheres of society,” says Aranka Verster, Business Unit Manager, School of Digital at Gijima.


The Innovation Services of CUT (CUTis) and the Free State Provincial Government will be the first to benefit from the programme’s training, which has been designed to enable the skills transfer, to the University lecturers who will lead the programme in the coming years. It will tentatively be open to the general public for enrolment from 2021.

“The collaborative nature of the AI University Programme will unlock the value of AI and the role it will play in workplaces of the future. By bringing together private and public sector partners, students, facilitators, mentors, coaches, and industry experts, the programme will enable the development of critical AI skills that will help our young people become more work-ready and employable, as well as help organisations, adapt to the ever-changing demands of the world of work,” says Lillian Barnard, MD at Microsoft South Africa.

The 12-month programme will use a blended learning model that includes the integration of self-study, online learning, classroom instructor-led training and a flipped classroom. This will cover: 1) Mentorship and coaching by industry experts, 2) Business skills, 3) Microsoft Azure AI Associate Certification, 4) Flipped Classroom, 5) Guest Lecturers, 6) Career days, 7) Examination and Certification.

Edited by Jenna Delport
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