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Invictus Capital wants SA graduates for blockchain expansion

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Sipho van der Putten, chief technology officer, Invictus Capital.
Sipho van der Putten, chief technology officer, Invictus Capital.

Global fintech firm Invictus Capital, which recently launched a graduate programme, is searching for local candidates to join the company, as it expands into blockchain and crypto-currency technologies.

In an interview with ITWeb, Sipho van der Putten, chief technology officer at Invictus Capital, says with SA's record high unemployment, the company sees this as an opportunity for young people with technological affinity to get into this space.

Launched in 2017, Invictus Capital deals in alternative investments and says it developed the first tokenised crypto-currency index fund. It adds that it is always seeking new talent.

This development comes as SA’s youth unemployment figures are at an all-time high, with Statistics SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey stating the rate of unemployment for those aged between 15 and 24 now stands at 74.7%, based on the expanded definition, which includes discouraged job-seekers.

Van der Putten says Invictus Capital is developing a swathe of new solutions around blockchain and crypto-currency, some of which are being developed from the company’s Cape Town office, which creates opportunities for local talent.

“We run software development and data science all from South Africa and we are growing − the business is growing pretty well, so we are constantly looking for new talent and staff. There are a lot of young people here who want to do something different. They don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over again,” he notes.

“We have also been expanding very much into the blockchain space and doing all kinds of new things. We are moving into the distributed finance space – that’s a new thing we are moving in − and we are moving into the training space.”

For this to happen, Van der Putten says, Invictus Capital earlier this year launched a first-of-its-kind programme for graduates who are passionate about both software development and the fast-paced world of crypto-currencies.

Learning on the job

The graduate programme targets students who have an honours or masters degree in computer science, mathematics, statistics or engineering, and have experience coding in Python or Java.

The company also wants graduates whom it says must have a genuine interest in algorithmic trading, finance or trading.

“The blockchain, crypto-currency space is fairly new and has been in existence for the last five years,” says Van der Putten. “So we need people in our business, but we can’t place an advert in the newspaper saying we need a blockchain specialist with 10 years’ experience; that doesn’t exist.

“So what we found is that you can look for experienced hires but you are competing with the likes of Amazon, Facebook and all the big tech giants. So we decided that this blockchain, crypto space is so new and so dynamic that basically we are looking for people that just finished university or are looking for their first jobs.

“So we have the graduate programme that is taking developers and data scientists. From a finance perspective, we are looking for accounting graduates, or people who have interest can join as interns.”

Growing demand for skills

Furthermore, Van der Putten says, as businesses become more data-centric, SA, just like the rest of the world, is in dire need of people who can not only make sense of the mountains of data collected, but who can also put their findings into production.

This explosion of data, he comments, is causing a worldwide shortage of data scientists and other technical professionals, which creates more opportunities for locals.

“The shortage is worldwide, but in South Africa in particular, there is a clear mismatch between supply and demand. Specifically, there aren’t a lot of people who graduate with the relevant technical skills. We need to make a concerted effort to not only find, but also train young people to meet a growing skills demand, and more importantly, make roles available locally.”

Turning to developer opportunities, Van der Putten notes there is surging demand for software developers, specifically those experienced in writing code in programming languages like Python, or more modern ones like Go.

“With the world moving more and more into automation and digitisation, the need for people who can build, modify, secure and run software products is at an all-time high.”

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