Coding boot camps key to developing SA’s tech workforce

Natasha Joubert is the reigning Miss South Africa. Picture: Supplied

Natasha Joubert is the reigning Miss South Africa. Picture: Supplied

Published May 29, 2024



Digital transformation has occurred in the past few decades, with the global economy increasingly dependent on technology. This has made tech skills critical tools for development and economic growth.

When I heard that women make up about 35% of the tech workforce worldwide – a significant improvement from the early 2000s when that figure stood at 9% – I resolved to use my reign as Miss South Africa to make it easier for women (and men) to enter the crucial field.

In South Africa, where IT and technology remain the top employment sectors for earning potential, there are about 44 000 unfilled entry-level digital vacancies.

However, the demand for skilled professionals far outstrips supply and there is a severe skills shortage, exacerbated by deep socio-economic disparities, further deepening the real digital divide.

One way to increase the skills is by making study available to more young people who cannot afford the fees, by awarding them bursaries. To this end, I have used the education wing of my advocacy campaign, The Natasha Joubert Collection, to secure bursaries through willing partners in the technology sector.

The impact of the shortage stretches far beyond the technology sector; it affects all industries reliant on digital services and solutions. There is a huge call for South Africans to acquire more tech skills, with coding emerging as a cornerstone for modern education and empowerment.

Closing the digital divide through coding

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at a staggering 32.1%, coupled with the tech skills gap, urgent collaboration is needed. Partnerships among private entities, educational institutions and governmental bodies are vital. Coding bootcamps are key resources in closing the gaps.

Coding presents a promising career path in South Africa, with a growing job market and huge potential for growth. The average coding salary is R420 000 a year (R215 a hour), while entry-level positions start at R150 000 annually. Experienced coders can earn up to R960 000.

Having coding skills can also open diverse career trajectories based on individual interests. Popular roles include software engineering, web development, data science and cybersecurity. With the right training and experience, coders can enter industries like finance, health care and e-commerce.

The benefits of bootcamps

Bootcamps are newcomers to education and have had a big impact in a short time. But that’s not to say they have been easily integrated into the educational landscape. In fact, they have often been met with concerns over credibility, and, in some cases, they have proved to be prohibitively expensive where students are unable to obtain funding or scholarships.

To stay competitive, universities must adapt. Integrating practical, skills-based learning alongside theory could attract more students. Collaborations like this could see universities lending their credibility to bootcamp courses that focus on practical, employment-oriented training, helping to future-proof South Africa’s workforce development.

“Bootcamps provide an affordable, fast-tracked way to gain in-demand tech skills,” says Riaz Moola, the CEO and Founder of HyperionDev, Southern Africa’s largest tech education provider, which has brought coding skills to thousands of students in more than 40 countries.

“At HyperionDev, our bootcamps focus on building a comprehensive, job-ready skillset across multiple tech stacks.”

A pivotal partnership for educational access

At the Natasha Joubert Collective, we have partnered with HyperionDev and Asus to support skill development and widen educational opportunities in South Africa. We are offering 10 coding scholarships for selected students to join a comprehensive six-month full-stack web developer bootcamp offered by HyperionDev.

We want to highlight the importance of making education accessible to all, encouraging students to pursue rewarding tech careers – key drivers of economic advancement.

Embracing the future with coding education

Coding bootcamps are not merely educational alternatives; they are also essential catalysts in South Africa’s strategic response to the evolving demands of the global digital landscape. As the gap between the need for tech-skilled professionals and the availability of trained individuals widens, bootcamps provide a pivotal solution that is timely and relevant.

The collaborative efforts between organisations like HyperionDev, educational bodies, the government and initiatives led by respected South Africans underscore a collective commitment to reshaping the country’s educational frameworks and economic future.

Natasha Joubert is the reigning Miss South Africa.

Daily News