SA developers love coffee, and JavaScript

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OfferZen co-founder Philip Joubert.
OfferZen co-founder Philip Joubert.

If you think about the challenges our country faces, most can be solved with software.

“If we understand what it takes to make South Africa a great place to be in tech, we will encourage more people to join tech fields. That means more tech businesses starting in South Africa, more devs staying in South Africa, more devs coming to South Africa and more non-devs becoming devs.”

This was the opening word from Stephen van der Heijden, VP for growth at OfferZen, kicking off the talent marketplace’s first conference in Cape Town this week.

Sharing the findings of the brand’s first software developer study – The State of South Africa’s Software Developer Nation – OfferZen co-founder Philip Joubert explained the aim of the survey was to find out what it’s like to work as a software developer in South Africa.

Polling over 4 000 developers, the study is one of the most in-depth surveys conducted among local developers.

According to Joubert, the survey unpacks whether someone considering a job as a software developer in South Africa should actually give it a go.

The study found that 80% of local developers feel valued and respected at work. And two-thirds believe they have significant growth opportunities at their current jobs. Unsurprisingly, compensation is a major driver when software developers consider switching jobs, but local devs also value company culture, professional growth opportunities and flexible working hours.

In fact, aside from salary, company culture is the number one consideration for software developers looking to change jobs. So, what does it take to build a solid company culture? In a word: coffee.

OfferZen’s research found that developers across all experience levels are rather fond of their daily caffeine kick. When it comes to their programming preferences, Python was voted one of the fastest-growing programming languages, second only to JavaScript.

About 67% of local developers have some sort of formal software development education and roughly 25% are self-taught. With this figure in mind, the survey revealed that local developers don’t need a university degree to get a solid paycheque, Joubert explained. But the results do highlight that the earlier you start coding, the better.

Speaking to the allure of global opportunities, the survey found 86% of developers in SA are open to moving abroad – but only one in five developers are actively looking for overseas opportunities, he said.

Keen to showcase the possibilities at home, Joubert highlighted that while international salaries are generally higher than those in cities like Cape Town, when factoring in tax costs and spending power, local software developers are actually on par with their international counterparts.

“Despite all the changes that have happened in the tech and software space, I believe we’re only at the start of the software revolution,” concluded Joubert. “Software may be eating the world but what we mustn’t forget is that software is created by people. People are the foundation of winning software teams and these teams are the guys and girls who are responsible for building the future.”

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