Absa, Digital Academy nurture young software developers

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Absa has made a substantial investment in developing young talent in partnership with the Digital Academy.
Absa has made a substantial investment in developing young talent in partnership with the Digital Academy.

A partnership between big four bank Absa and the Digital Academy is beginning to bear fruit as it equips young South Africans with software development skills.

The partners recently hosted a technology showcase to unveil solutions and applications built by the Digital Academy interns as part of a six-month programme aimed at helping to bridge a skills shortage in the technology and banking sectors.

The Digital Academy has created a platform that allows for young software developers to grow technically and solve real problems with innovative solutions.

The programme is designed to identify top talent and fast-track opportunities and success for participants.

Participants in the internship work in simulated software development environments, which encourage digital product innovation in Africa and allow skills to be aligned to industry demand.

According to Absa, in October 2018, Statistics SA revealed that about one in three young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 were not employed, enrolled in educational programmes or involved in training initiatives.

One of the reasons for this, Stats SA said, is a lack of skills among the youth and, without any assistance or intervention, many of them face the likelihood of long-term unemployment.

Absa says it is for this reason that it made a substantial investment in developing young talent in partnership with the Digital Academy.

Both organisations contribute to improving the employability of SA's out-of-work youth and promote economic inclusion, while passing on critical skills needed to succeed in the workplace of the future.

"Disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of things, robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are changing the way we live and work," says Lee-Anne Wyman, programme manager for young talent and citizenship in Absa's technology division.

"We need to train and develop a skilled workforce that has the ability to take part in the digital revolution, which is one of the reasons that our partnership with the Digital Academy is so important. Furthermore, we believe that together we have the ability to bring possibilities to life and that hand-in-hand we can play a shaping role in society."

Each year, the Digital Academy hosts two intakes of 30 students that are trained for six months. The only prerequisite for joining the programme is for students to have completed matric, to have a foundation in coding and a passion for technology.

The initiative supports these young interns in their development by building commercially-focused prototypes that address local challenges for the local and African market.

To date, 178 interns have been placed at Absa as part of the work-based experience component of the internship, of which 12 are current interns, 85 have been placed permanently and 41 have been placed on fixed-term contracts.

"We are dedicated to equipping the youth with the tools, knowledge and skills that they need in order to have a voice in the development of products and services of the future. Digital skills are among the most in-demand from employers, and programmes such as our rapid internship programme helps to alleviate the problem," says Gary Bannatyne, managing director and co-founder of the Digital Academy.

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