Youth unemployment has hit a record high, with 64,4% of those aged 15 to 24 unemployed, according to Statistics SA.
As more and more jobs are becoming available in the tech space, it is vital to bridge the digital skills gap in South Africa to minimise the youth unemployment rate and improve the livelihoods of young people in the country.
This is according to Riaz Moola, CEO at HyperionDev, who says that the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has resulted in an influx of digital job opportunities. “However, locally this demand far exceeds supply, leading to a severe skills gap.”
This is reflected in the Institute of Management Development’s (IMD) Digital Competitiveness Ranking which ranked South Africa at 60 out of 64 countries in 2021. The report measures the capacity and readiness of the same economies to adopt digital technology, with South Africa’s overall top weaknesses listed as digital and technological skills, as well as higher education achievement.
With this in mind, Moola points out that a viable career for local youth to consider is to become a software developer. Here are his top reasons why:
* Software development has a relatively low barrier of entry: Programming is far more accessible than most other conventional careers. For example, law, medicine, accounting, and engineering require expensive degrees, years of study, and intensive exams or industry body registrations to accreditations to work in that profession. “Programming, on the other hand, offers a range of far more accessible education paths such as mentor-led bootcamps and online courses,” adds Moola. “Plus, the ability to write good code and being able to prove your experience in creating highly functioning programs are far more valued by prospective employers than degrees.”
* Software developer skills are future-proof: Covid-19 and the national lockdown highlighted the importance of tech skills. “As brick-and-mortar shops and traditional industries ground to a halt, the tech space thrived with internet use, online and digital services skyrocketing. Chatbots, websites, online stores, and new customer platforms became essential, however they need whole teams of trained professionals to keep them running smoothly,” Moola explains. “In short, the world relies on software developers more than ever, meaning job security in this industry is relatively stable.”
* Demand for programmers outweighs the supply: He adds that even before Covid-19 forced hundreds of businesses to turn to online and digital services to keep their operations going, the tech industry was a growing force. “To this day, the demand for professional programmers far outstrips the supply, and with more and more businesses going online, that demand is only set to increase.”
Moola points out that the high cost of traditional tertiary education remains a challenge for many in South Africa. “As such, to assist local youth to realise their dreams and improve their livelihoods, HyperionDev has launched student funding assistance and scholarship programmes which are already helping hundreds of students start their rewarding careers in the tech sector,” he says.
“As the digital world is constantly evolving, it offers a world of opportunities for South African youth from all walks of life,” he adds. “However, it is vital that all players in the country provide as much support as possible to provide them with much-needed accessible education to forge future proofed career paths,” Moola concludes.