GOVERNMENT says the private sector and other stakeholders should find ways to motivate the girl-child to venture into the information and communication technologies (ITCs) sector.
This comes as the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) estimates a skills shortfall of over two million jobs in the ICT sector within the next five years.
As such, girls and young women who learn coding, apps development and computer science will not only be well-placed for a successful career in the ICT sector, but ICT skills are rapidly becoming a strong advantage for students in just about any other field they might choose to pursue.
"As you may be aware, ICTs are pervasive across all sectors and these rapid technology developments are creating new opportunities which will redefine jobs in the future (that) do not even exist today. As such, digital skills are essential for all careers," Beaullah Chirume, an ICT ministry services director told delegates attending Girls in ICT commemorations at Gokomere in Masvingo last week.
She added that despite all the progress made in the sector during the past years, the digital divide still remained evident and is compounded by disparities and inequalities in access, use and skills between men and women, countries and underserved areas and also persons with disabilities and other specific needs.
"I strongly believe that more girls and young women will become critical thinkers and creators of the technologies which are so critical to address the most pressing issues we face as a country - alleviation of poverty, education, health, environment or sustainable development," she said.
Eldrett Shereni, NetOne's executive director marketing communications, said Girls in ICT Day was meant to encourage young women to venture into the ICT sector and specifically to take up technical subjects.
"ICTs generally unlock access to new opportunities that enhance innovation. Capacitating the girl child on the knowledge of ICTs not only increases their learning capacity but unlocks opportunities for them to explore new ideas that will enable them to create wealth for themselves and commence their journey towards financial independence," she said.
NetOne, Zimbabwe's second largest mobile network operator, has of late been mentoring young girls into the ICT fold. Currently NetOne's workforce comprises of 297 women - accounting for 40 percent of the total workforce - who are engaged in the different departments such as technical (planning, information technology, operations and optimisation), sales, marketing, customer experience, finance and public relations.
The Girls in ICT day was set up by the ITU in 2012 and seeks to encourage gender balance in the ICT sector at all levels of the profession. Supporting the education of women and girls in the ICT sector is also in line with United Nations Millennium Development Goal 3 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Not only are opportunities in the ICT sector elevating women to higher positions but they are also creating a more gender-balanced sector.