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Michael Jordaan’s codeX, Accenture in 4IR skills pact

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Former First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan-backed software academy codeX has partnered with consultancy firm Accenture to co-develop a skills development programme to equip South African youth with the skills required to participate in the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) economy.

The initial class of the one-year coding programme – designed to address the country’s key economic growth imperatives, including unemployment – consists of 21 non-degreed and unemployed youth who are based in Cape Town and have passed matric.

According to the companies, the youth were selected following a two-week activation in underprivileged communities and an online bootcamp that determined aptitude and identified those with a learning mindset.

The partnership comes as the South African government rigorously pursues 4IR technologies to boost the economy.

In April, the Presidency announced the 4IR commission, which is tasked with advising president Cyril Ramaphosa and government as a whole on relevant policies, strategies and action plans to position SA as a smart, connected and competitive global player.

Earlier this month, the commission presented its draft diagnostic report towards the country’s 4IR plan and opportunities available to harness it.

“As one of the country’s digital accelerators, we are witnessing a resurgence in demand for custom, bespoke software development skills within larger enterprises,” says Vukani Mngxati, CEO of Accenture SA.

“This demand places an additional strain on the country’s already limited pool of qualified and experienced Java engineers, whom Accenture also needs for its own projects with clients. It’s vital that we develop adaptable and transferable skills that prepare youth for the dynamic workplace of the future and remain applicable as jobs and industries evolve.”

codeX has expertise in designing and implementing rapid software training programmes that focus on digital transformation.

The codeX model and methodology are a great fit with Accenture's objectives, as the modular, robust training platform is elastic and can easily accommodate new content, the consultancy firm says.

Accenture will offer access to its facilities around the country to scale the project to other major centres, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, the Free State and the North West.

Enrolled students will be able to sign up and access the platform remotely, enabling them to complete the first module from anywhere in the country, before progressing to the practical phase, for which they need to attend classes in person.

“I am delighted that a start-up and a large global brand will seek to solve our country’s number one challenge,” says Jordaan, codeX’s co-founder. “My hope is that we can scale fast to effectively tackle unemployment in South Africa.”

This month, Internet search giant Google provided a R7.4 million cash injection into codeX to continue with its work of creating an ecosystem of coders from underrepresented groups.

The 2019 State of South Africa’s Software Developer Nation report by OfferZen shows most developers in the country learned to code by hitting the books in formal education streams.

However, a significant portion of developers – just over a quarter – are self-taught coders. When it comes to their programming preferences, Python was voted one of the fastest-growing programming languages, second only to JavaScript.

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