One woman who has dedicated her career to this cause, to the empowerment of youth and the promotion and upliftment of women in the ICT sector, is the award-winning founder of Cape Town based training organisation, On the Ball College (OTBC), Kim Palmer.
Launched in September 2005, this renowned college has since become a household name in the ICT industry within the Western Cape. As a participant in the Innovator Trust ICT Incubation program, this black-female owned college has actively been involved in sharpening the minds of youth and created a much-needed space for women to interact through their ICT learnership offering, skills programmes and their annual Women in ICT Seminar.
“Women in ICT at present in South Africa account for less than 30% representation. Women need to see more role models, they need to have access to mentorship and be made aware of the careers that are available to them. The future is built on a foundation of digital skills and if women are not encouraged to grow these skills, they will be excluded and left behind,” said Kim Palmer.
For On the Ball College, the Innovator Trust have been one of those role models and a key partner to the promotion of continuous learning and development particularly for women such as Kim within the South African ICT sector. “The benefit of being a part of an incubation program such as the one offered by the Innovator Trust, is that it provides support across the organisation and not just at the executive level,” shares Kim. Executive leadership skills and operational expertise complemented by a mentor, a personal coach and a support team who are on-call and ready to assist suggests a incubation model tailored to guiding SMME’s beyond just profitability, to a state of sustainability. “This is not a place of toxic affirmation so expect to be challenged. The values witnessed and why I would encourage participation in the program is the focus and professionalism, the detail and empathy experienced, the flexibility with our business and the exceptional support and belief in the vision and cause for On the Ball College,” added Kim.
Raising racial awareness, spotlighting cultural shifts, and creating platforms for marginalised voices only reflects part of the active interventions of On the Ball College. A unique value offering from the organisation is that they’ve managed to unlock exclusive industry insights that have allowed its students to thrive, often surpassing industry peers. These triumphs are testament to the college’s study approach and material content that focus on both theoretical and practical applications.
Each year, students are able to participate in ICT certificate programmes that range from NQF levels 4-6, providing beneficiaries with the opportunity to be accredited for future careers which include becoming a computer technician, network administrator, programmer, developer or business analyst.
Beyond launching the careers of several successful individuals, Kim has found innovative ways to combine her wealth of knowledge from 21 years of experience in the ICT educational sector, with current emerging industry trends and tactfully apply it to the social-political environment in which the company now finds itself.
While many institutions have battled to keep up with e-learning demands, Kim Palmer has proven that she is not only an industry veteran but a trailblazer too. To aid the transition from brick-and-mortar learning to online schooling, On the Ball College has readjusted its learning structures.
“We adapted and helped clients to adapt to the changing learning environment through adding devices like laptops or tablets to our course fees and learnership programmes. We included a work-from-home learning model to help our students be better prepared for remote working and become more adaptable to this way of working,” said Palmer.