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Innovative partnership will deliver both economic and social benefits for previously unemployed young South Africans.

What will the economic and social impact be on South Africa if we train 500 young South Africans with coding and digital technology skills in 2022?

This is a question that I have been rolling around in my head as we prepare to execute on a project which will combine both learnerships and work experiences via an innovative partnership with IT Varsity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a material impact on the South African workforce. Those who have had access to technology have been able to continue their learning, while those who have not had access to online learning have found themselves left further behind. If we consider that many of these young South Africans need to grasp digital skills if they want to access the jobs of the future, this is a scary situation.

This is particularly relevant as South Africa has a young population and digital adoption should be far more natural and accessible than it currently is.

In 2020, the World Bank issued a report entitled “Future of Work in Africa” and it emphasized that Sub-Saharan Africa was struggling to keep pace with the changing technology demands of the workforce of the future. A simple example they highlighted was that just 17% of the labour force was using professional networking site LinkedIn.

In 2021, global consulting giant PwC conducted research into digital skills in South Africa and the impact of automation on the workforce – particularly as the economy transitions into the 4th Industrial Revolution. A worrying statistic out of this report is that 34% of adults without school education or training beyond school are not learning any new digital skills compared with just 17% of those who have achieved a tertiary qualification.

A further statistic out of this report is 7 out of 10 South African workers feel positive about the impact of technology on their world of work…. But what if you don’t have that foundation to start with this?

This is exactly why we are particularly excited about our project which aims to deliver both learnerships plus work experiences via the Youth Employment Service (YES) out of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (Dtic).

We will have the opportunity to deliver a combination of both work experience and digital skills in an integrated program which will assist previously unemployed youth right across the country.

Technology is the umbrella housing artificial intelligence, 3D printing, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and so on.  The ability to work on a computer at an advanced level, for example, is a highly sought-after skill.

Beyond study, other important skills that are important for youth to acquire are softer skills that are related to working with people. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), there are 10 stand-out skills that youth will need to become successful in the fourth industrial revolution perpetrated by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to WEF, 230 million jobs across the continent will require some level of digital skills by 2030.

Skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and people management remain key skills for any young person to have. These are all key skills which are taught in our program as we help built a combination of work and entrepreneurship pathways for these youth to pursue.

We are currently working on a project with a multinational technology business with youth in 6 provinces – we have combined both technology training with practical work experience – and we can see that the moment youth are exposed to technology, they view opportunities through a completely different lens.

Suddenly we have youth who are being exposed to technology such as Power BI and building integrated digital dashboards, apps and solving real-world community problems through exposure to technology.

The example I love to highlight is a project we are running in Limpopo which currently has 100 youth participating. Nearly R400 000 per month is going into parts of the Limpopo economy via 100 youth salaries. These youth are now picking up digital skills and capacitating local schools through coding clubs and learning to build their own businesses. The knock-on effect is immense.

The world is slowly emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic jitters and we need to pay attention to finding solutions to tackle the country’s youth unemployment crisis. This is a ticking time bomb that needs all our focus.

We have an opportunity to work together utilizing both policy [YES] and world-class technology partners such as IT Varsity to develop the young adults of South Africa into “tech wizards” and entrepreneurs of the future by giving them better employment opportunities.

Who is with us?

About IT Varsity
IT varsity offers accredited qualifications that ensure our students are employable and have the practical knowledge to apply their skills successfully.

IT varsity offers coding education from a newbie to a professional developer. With the support of a brilliant team of instructors and mentors, you’ll be ready to translate concepts, break down problems, and continue learning on the job. www.itvarsity.org

Submitted by Decusatio

Author: Samantha Metcalfe

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