As we approach the midpoint of 2024, hundreds of thousands of matriculants face critical decisions about their professional future. Tech-based careers, buoyed by the rapid digitisation of almost all aspects of our lives, present lucrative opportunities.

By Riaz Moola, CEO and founder of HyperionDev

These opportunities are particularly pertinent in South Africa, where a significant skills gap exists within the technology sector. Given the current unemployment rate of 32.1% coupled with this skills gap, the urgency for a collaborative approach to equip the youth with the necessary capabilities is more apparent than ever.

While government initiatives like the NSDS and the National Skills Fund strive to enhance digital and technological skill development, the question remains: Is it enough? The emergence of coding bootcamps promoting immersive learning is becoming crucial in bridging these gaps. Let’s explore how they’re shaping the employability and preparedness of our youth for the present and future world of work.

Increasing demand in the tech sector

South African businesses are struggling to fill positions in Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) amidst a surge in the adoption of emerging technologies like AI, cloud computing, and big data. This growing tech landscape increases the demand for cloud engineers, data scientists, DevOps engineers and cybersecurity specialists.

Role of bootcamps in combatting the skills gap

A study by McKinsey shows the dynamic nature of tech skill demands, highlighting the need for flexible and adaptive learning methods such as bootcamps. For instance, the demand for MYSQL skills declined from 10% in 2018 to 8% in 2022, illustrating how quickly certain skills can become outdated.

Bootcamps, offering intense, focused training, fill the gap left by traditional education systems, which often can’t keep pace with industry developments.

What is a tech bootcamp?

An immersive bootcamp is an in-depth, advanced coding course that prepares students to work as multi-role developers. The program’s intensive learning structure concentrates on developing practical skills, providing students with a rich and varied tech skill set across multiple tech stacks.

This positions it as a solid alternative to traditional educational paths such as diplomas, computer science degrees, or one-year higher education certificate programs, offering a significantly lower educational cost.

Participants who complete our immersive bootcamps will possess the necessary skills to undertake a wide array of tasks in the tech industry. This is achieved through practical coding simulations, expert code reviews, formal progression check-ins, and consistent education and career development support.

Bootcamps are still a relatively fresh concept in South Africa

Unlike traditional universities in South Africa, which have built trust and credibility among students and employers over time, bootcamps are newcomers. They are often met with scepticism and credibility concerns.

This newness challenges their ability to be widely accepted as credible educational options. Another potential hurdle is that the cost of enrolling in a bootcamp can be prohibitive for individuals from less affluent backgrounds.

Difficulty obtaining funding or scholarships means many South Africans view bootcamps as out of reach.

Fortunately, organisations like HyperionDev offer financial support to students through global scholarships.

To overcome the challenges, universities could adopt a more proactive approach by integrating skills-based learning alongside theoretical instruction. For institutions unable to run their own bootcamps, partnerships with private sector companies that specialise in such models could be beneficial.

Such collaborations could leverage universities’ established credibility while also offering practical, employment-oriented training that bootcamps excel at providing.

Global competitiveness and economic growth

Bootcamps are more than an educational trend – they are crucial for modernising South Africa’s workforce and competing globally. Already certain tertiary institutions are embracing this educational model, but it should be more widely embraced to help South Africa unlock immense economic growth and redefine its role in the global tech landscape.

With these initiatives and adaptations, South Africa is not just addressing immediate employment needs; but it is also positioning itself as a significant player in the global digital economy, poised for a future where technology and skills development go hand in hand.