The cost of tertiary education has increased by 4.2% in 2022, making access to education a challenge for many South Africans. This, coupled with rising inflation and the lingering financial impact of the pandemic, has left almost a quarter of students unable to repay their student loans, which leads to them dropping out.

Tertiary education fees have been an ongoing challenge in the country which has led to movements such as #FeesMustFall. As South Africa is facing a rising unemployment rate, it is time for the private sector to come to the fore and aid in making education more affordable and accessible to more students through the provision of alternative options.

This is according to Riaz Moola, founder and CEO of HyperionDev, a provider of tech education, who explains that out of South Africa’s unemployed population, the majority had education levels below matric, followed by those with matric.

“On the plus side, only a small number of those who are unemployed were university graduates, while slightly more had other tertiary qualifications as their highest level of education. What this shows is that there is a correlation between the attainment of higher levels of education and the likelihood of employment. But the biggest hurdle standing in the way of education is affordability.”

He adds that another barrier for employment is the lack of skills needed for tech-based jobs of today. “As such, South Africans need to access education that equips students with the skills demanded by local and global businesses. Coding skills, for instance, can either open up opportunities for in-demand jobs such as a Software Engineer, which can net approximately R1.2 million per annum[6], or bolster other professions in sectors such as marketing, human resources, law, healthcare and agriculture, for example.”

To equip more people with digital skills and increase access to affordable education, HyperionDev has raised over R60-million from over 800 investors globally – making this one of the largest edtech crowdfunding campaigns in history. These funds will be used to fast-track affordable education across Africa through strategic partnerships such as with The University of Edinburgh and UNISA Enterprise. “This will give more citizens the opportunity to learn in-demand skills within three to six months, whereafter they will be ready to enter the job market.”

Additionally, Moola says that students will be assisted with the necessary skills to make entry into employment easier as well as giving graduates the opportunity to put what they have learnt into practice via learnership programmes at various employers. “This also helps graduates when it comes to taking the next step in their careers since it’s often easier to find a job once you have experience, with research showing that employers tend to discriminate against those who are unemployed – further compounding the unemployment crisis.”

Internationally, the University of Edinburgh will be funding over £200 000 (approximately R4 million) in HyperionDev coding bootcamp scholarships in 2022 and beyond. “This is a step forward on our mission to expand in Africa and globally through strategic partnerships that will help us to broaden accessibility to quality education,” shares Moola.

“I urge more players in the private sector to develop solutions to South Africa’s unemployment crisis. Our country’s economy and future depend on this.”