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Hellocomputer, Umuzi develop programmer learnership

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 17 May 2018
Joey Khuvutlu, MD of digital agency Hellocomputer.
Joey Khuvutlu, MD of digital agency Hellocomputer.

Cape Town-based digital agency Hellocomputer and learning organisation Umuzi have partnered to develop a programmer learnership that will address the shortage of these skills in local workplaces.

Hellocomputer is a digital agency arm of FCB Africa, which specialises in developing digital and integrated campaigns, annual strategies that will aid brands to navigate and find success in the digital world, multi-platform development, experiential digital integration and data science services for companies.

Based on the premise that the closer the training environment matches that of future employers, the more likely its learners are to succeed and excel, Umuzi offers free one-year learnerships that produce entry-level but high-calibre creative professionals.

Hellocomputer MD Joey Khuvutlu explains that the need for better skills is dire. "With technology driving innovation in all sectors, and increasingly so in the advertising and marketing sector, there's a dire shortage of programmers, despite barriers to entry being low and two out of three developers and/or programmers being self-taught. Previously, this space was white male-oriented, providing us with an ideal opportunity to make a difference in a way that goes beyond ticking boxes on a scorecard.

"Programming is, in a nutshell, a gateway for the previously disadvantaged to take part in the job economy of the future.

"The Umuzi holistic learnership framework model is ideal because learners get paid a monthly stipend and qualify with a national certificate accredited by MICT Seta, and gain work experience at leading and established top employers.

"Recruitment is done via social media with a focus on youth who have had to pause their tertiary education due to financial reasons. The learners are also exposed to real-life work situations and environments, while having the freedom to discover their creative identity and upskilling in critical thinking and technical skills," notes Khuvutlu.

Over and above helping Dibwe Kalangu and Niklas Peters of Umuzi to create the learnership syllabus to prepare programmers for the industry, the Hellocomputer team also kick-started the programme with R250 000 to fund the inaugural learnerships of the new programme. To date, the initiative has grown to 30 young people on learnerships, supported by several employers.

"We've repositioned our learnership offering to prepare young people with the skills every product team needs: coding, UX design, UX research, product management, and our newest learnership, data science," says Umuzi MD Gilbert Pooley.

"Essential to our model is that young people learn these skills on-the-job, in an integrated, product-oriented environment."

Hellocomputer has committed to fund more learnerships in the coming years and rally more digital agencies to do the same.