CapaCiTi calls on ICT firms to hire interns

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CapaCiTi students receive a certificate at the end of their ICT training programme.
CapaCiTi students receive a certificate at the end of their ICT training programme.

CapaCiTi, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative's (CiTi) Tech Career Accelerator, is calling on local organisations to contribute to the eradication of youth unemployment by offering its graduates internship opportunities.

Since its inception in 2010, CapaCiTi has trained 1889 young South Africans for the tech sector, with a large percentage of these interns already placed in a wide range of local ICT corporates such as financial services firm, digital marketing agencies and software start-ups.

The ICT skills development organisation is currently seeking internship opportunities for the 2018 cohort of 380 students who have recently graduated, and another group of 200 former students who are seeking permanent employment in the field of ICT.

While SA has clawed its way out of recession, the tough economic climate has seen many businesses implementing cost cutting and restructuring strategies, resulting in job losses across all sectors.

This, according to CapaCiTi, has resulted in some local firms opting to either halt employment processes or to hire more experienced employees, robbing new graduates of internship and learnership opportunities.

"It is a difficult time for many South African businesses, and we're finding that companies are not able to commit to larger groups of interns as they had in the past. CapaCiTi is finding a lot of organisations who only want to take on people with a couple of years' experience," says Fiona Tabraham, acting head of Skills Development, CiTi.

"CapaCiTi is calling South African businesses to commit to developing the country's pipeline of talent, giving young people the opportunity to gain some real workplace experience, so that they can confidently land a job in the sector."

The CapaCiTi skills development programmes are available in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and CiTi's Cape Town-based Bandwidth Barn hubs in Woodstock and Khayelitsha.

The students undergo a 9 to 12 month training programme focused on digital skills such as ICT infrastructure, software programming, cyber security, fintech, or artificial intelligence.

Upon graduation, they are placed in permanent jobs in corporates that need their particular skills set.

Unemployment crisis

According to Stats SA, unemployment rate among young people aged 15-34 is 38.2% in the first quarter of 2018.

Last year's edition of the JCSE ICT Skills Survey revealed that, despite a number of initiatives to bring technology into education, the education system is still not generating enough work-ready youth for the ICT field.

"Addressing rising youth unemployment in SA, yet leveraging growing opportunities in the tech sector and for those with technology skills, CapaCiTi's programmes are accelerated career pathways for previously unemployed youth," notes Tabraham.

"Key to this is the commitment by SA businesses to create internship opportunities for youth to apply and grow their technical skills and confidence in the workplace."

Tabraham says employers, in turn, benefit from having additional tech support skills for their teams and projects, particularly valuable at the start of a year

In April CiTi received R250 million to scale up its CapaCiTi technology skills and job readiness programmes. The funders were BCX, which gave R100 million; the National Treasury Jobs Fund, which put in R75 million; and other South African corporates.

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