Public-private collab to create coding skills pipeline

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 24 Mar 2023

Software developer training academy WeThinkCode and Ekurhuleni West TVET College (EWC) will pilot a coding skills programme for youth with no prior experience.

This, after the organisations entered into a public-private partnership aimed at creating a pipeline of in-demand technical skills.

In a statement, WeThinkCode says the initial phase of the training programme will see two cohorts of 50 students learning the academy’s curriculum at the EWC campus.

The academy further sees the collaboration with EWC as an opportunity to close the gap between unemployed youth and market demand for skilled software developers.

“This pilot programme represents a pivotal opportunity to produce digital skills at scale,” says Ruvimbo Gwatirisa, WeThinkCode campus director: Cape Town, and lead of the TVET expansion.

“TVETs have a national footprint, and together with our coding curriculum, we can deliver thousands of digital skills into our economy and help to lower our youth unemployment rate more rapidly than WeThinkCode could on its own.”

Manie Stoltz, business unit: partnerships manager at EWC, adds: “Through this partnership, WeThinkCode and EWC are not only empowering young minds to become skilled coders, but also enabling them to unlock their full potential and create a brighter future for themselves and their communities. Investment in education is a vital step towards building a better world.”

Launched in 2015, WeThinkCode seeks to eliminate the digital skills shortage by developing 100 000 coders in Africa over the next 10 years.

To date, over 700 young people have graduated and maintain a 91% post-graduation employment rate, says the organisation.

Says WeThinkCode CEO Nyari Samushonga: “In our seven years of operating, we have demonstrated that some of the best coding skills come from areas not normally associated with tech talent.

“We are incredibly excited about partnering with EWC to bring this opportunity to more young people and further secure local tech skills pipelines.”

Samushonga states partnerships are the answer to creating the pool and pipeline of digital talent.

Resultantly, the pilot programme has also brought on board other collaborative partners, namely the Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA), Standard Bank Tutuwa Community Foundation and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Percy Moleke, CEO of GCRA, notes: “The GCRA is proud to partner with WeThinkCode and EWC for the delivery of this exciting pilot programme.

“It will see close collaboration between GCRA, a post-education and training institution and a civil society organisation in the form of an NPO. The programme aims to take best in breed course content and curriculum delivery to youth in the province.

“The purpose of the pilot is to test the programme's scalability. If it's successful, the partners will have a model which could significantly improve the reach of this wonderful ICT programme.

“We look forward to future phases of this programme and replicating the model in other sectors.”

Ona Meyer, programme manager for jobs and livelihoods at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, adds: “The partnership between WeThinkCode and EWC is a case study of a new partnership model that will allow youth enrolled in TVETs to access a high-quality, industry-relevant curriculum and pathway support into jobs in the ICT sector in South Africa.

“Partnerships like these have the potential to stretch across multiple TVET campuses and incorporate a variety of high-quality private training providers to improve employment outcomes for many young South Africans.”

Gwatirisa concludes that beyond the envisaged skills pipeline outcome, the pilot programme provides an opportunity to collect and analyse data that can be used to innovate around policies aimed at creating a robust IT education framework.