A new organisation is hoping to help school leavers and the unemployed develop careers using Web-based technologies – even those these people may not traditionally be considered as candidates for these high-tech job opportunities.

In a country with an alarmingly high unemployment rate, there’s still a lot of work to do, especially in the ICT industry. The problem is that there aren’t enough people skilled to do the work. However, much of the available work doesn’t require a degree in computer science, and could be carried out effectively by someone with the right training.

The GROW Academy has identified the value of the “digital artisan”. Where traditional artisan opportunities are falling away, this initiative aims to provide apprenticeships for school leavers and the unemployed in web-based technologies.

If everything works according to plan, accredited apprentices will be channelled into internships where they will have the opportunity to gain long-term employment.

The five founders of the initiative all come from different backgrounds in the ICT industry. Their collective skills in web development, search engine optimisation, social media, mobile applications and online fundraising provide the knowledge base for the academy.

The initiative was successfully piloted through a five-day boot camp held in Khayelitsha in June. A six-week program kicks off in January 2012, with the intention of opening three campuses based in Bridge Town, Khayelitsha and Stellenbosch.

With capacity to educate 300 applicants a year through the module-based program, graduates from the GROW Academy will be released into non-profit organisations for apprenticeships, followed by internships at commercial companies.