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R60m injection for WeThinkCode expansion

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BCX will provide R60-million over three years WeThinkCode, a tuition-free programme designed to educate the next generation of software engineers in South Africa.

BCX is the new primary growth partner of WeThinkCode and this investment will allow the organisation to more than double the number of entry-level coders in the South African Market by the end of 2018.

The funds will enable expansions and upgrades in WeThinkCode’s Johannesburg office and allow for the opening of a new campus in Cape Town in 2017. As part of this agreement, BCX and other Telkom Group companies will host 40 interns from WeThinkCode’s educational programme every year for the next three years.

WeThinkCode was launched in South Africa in 2015, and first opened its doors to students in January 2016. WeThinkCode seeks to eliminate the skills shortage by developing 100 000 coders in Africa over the next 10 years, and is free to all participants. Nearly 40 000 South African students applied for the programme in 2017, and 200 students were accepted into the elite course.

According to a 2015 survey by the Joburg Centre for Software engineering, South African businesses were reporting anywhere between 30 000 and 70,000 tech industry vacancies for skilled IT workers. Companies are not finding the talent within South Africa and many are looking to recruit from overseas to fill the skill shortage.

“I’m incredibly inspired by the mission of WeThinkCode,” says Sipho Maseko, Telkom Group CEO. “The Telkom Group has always been invested in youth skills and transformation in South Africa, especially in the digital space.

“Coding skills are a vital component of the new digital economy, and WeThinkCode’s innovative programme is a great way to invest in the future digital minds of South Africa.”

WeThinkCode is open to anyone between the age of 17 and 35. Students don’t need any previous education, including matric.

Prospective students complete an aptitude test followed by a four-week boot camp before undertaking a two-year course in programming and coding. Students concurrently complete internships to ensure that their skills are applied in real-life scenarios.

“At BCX, we’re committed to preparing African businesses to compete in the new digital economy. We advise our customers that if they don’t invest in digitalisation, they should be prepared to be left behind,” says Ian Russell, CEO of BCX. “We’re practicing what we preach with this agreement with WeThinkCode. We’re gaining first access to the next generation of digital talent in South Africa – the folks that will be behind the next big thing.”

WeThinkCode will be using the funds provided by BCX to enable expansion of its current Johannesburg facility, cover tuition costs for students and begin developing a new campus in Cape Town. The new campus, built to further diversify the student profile of WeThinkCode, will hold 200 more students and is expected to offer its first classes in early 2018.

“We are thrilled to work with BCX as our growth sponsor to expand and enhance our programme throughout South Africa,” says Arlene Mulder, MD and co-founder of WeThinkCode. “The careers of the future in this country depend on technology skills and it is extremely important that businesses like BCX, a leader in digitalisation, work with us to allow our students every opportunity to develop their talents to create world-changing solutions for the digital era.”

Internships allow students to gain real-life work experience, while allowing businesses to benefit from their energy and fresh perspectives.