Skills programme adds more youth to tech economy
Skills programme adds more youth to tech economy

Harambee’s first cohort of digitally gifted youth all successfully employed

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Nov 24, 2021

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Now, the first cohort of software testers has proven the concept. All have graduated and gained full-time employment with Clickatell, the company for which they've been training and working.

Pieter de Villiers, CEO and co-founder of Clickatell, says the cohort has provided managed digital services such as software testing and development to his company’s clients.

“These are jobs that employees in the US and Canada have traditionally done. The real beauty of this initiative is that not only does it train and employ young South Africans who had little or no hope of accessing jobs despite being digitally gifted, it also keeps the work – and the associated revenue – in South Africa. So it's a double win.”

The 12-month DigiLink programme combines real-world work with technical skills and personal training, giving candidates the essential experience for future employment.

Candidates for the programme, who come from marginalised backgrounds, are sourced from university graduates and digital academies. Some are self-skilled or have completed micro-courses, but all have evident technical ability and some tech background.

De Villiers says that what's needed now is more employers to get on board to scale the work opportunities for young people. “South Africa does not have enough young digital talent entering the job market to meet the current demand for digital skills in our economy, and few businesses have the capacity to coach and mentor inexperienced people for complex jobs. So we must find ways to bridge this gap.”

He says that DigiLink takes on this role, giving young people the training, mentorship and supervision needed to fulfil entry-level digital jobs such as software testing and development, desktop support, and data analysis. Traditionally, digital skills training is expensive, lengthy and inflexible, but with DigiLink, trainees gain the skills and experience they need to succeed at work, through hands-on support, in just one year.

For the now-employed cohort, this initiative has changed their lives. Additional cohorts are already well underway, training on the job with multiple partners, and within 12 months, these young people will also be ready for full-time employment.

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