Career Moves

Out-dated tech education notions to fall post-COVID-19

Our colleges and education providers need to go beyond creating tech graduates with a narrow band of capabilities.
Read time 3min 20sec

The effects of COVID-19 have left the world reeling. Businesses have closed their doors and people continue to hide in their homes. Cut off from physical things, people and companies are turning at an unprecedented rate to digital services and operations.

Working from home is the new norm. Internet usage continues to spike. Colleges and universities have taken up remote learning not as an add-on, but as a core part of their central education model. More than ever, we are all seeing quite clearly the power and importance of the Internet and tech in society, work and the virology to fight COVID-19.

Business for South Africa recently predicted as many as two million newly unemployed people by the end of 2020, as a result of the economic shutdown. It’s a terrifying thought and one that brings an even more chilling reality: In a highly competitive job market, job-seekers need to stand out even further from the crowd, offering skills across a broader range of needs.

Fewer positions will exist for job-seekers and candidates will feel increasing pressure to adapt and work across a much broader set of competencies than was required prior to the arrival of coronavirus.

Sadly, despite the requirement for the future workforce to develop a rich and varied skill set for the increasingly uncertain job market, the onus doesn’t rest solely on their shoulders. The education system that produces them is required to adapt to this new environment if it is going to continue adding value to the lives of students in South Africa.

Sadly, quick pivots and adaptation isn’t what our education system is best known for.

Sadly, quick pivots and adaptation isn’t what our education system is best known for. The simple fact, however, is that many people can no longer afford the prospect of spending years and hundreds of thousands of rands preparing to earn a living.

In these uncertain times, employers are looking for recruits who can do it all. Gone are the days when they boasted several teams, each specialising in a single mission. The teams of the future must rise to a range of challenges and solve them with a diverse and deep skill set. Our colleges and education providers need to go beyond creating graduates with a narrow band of capabilities.

Online tech educators like ourselves are focusing on creating job-ready graduates who can work on both the front-end and the back-end of a Web site, while also being able to create, debug and work with a wide array of software applications.

More of these types of immersive programmes need to be developed to produce graduates who can rise to a wide variety of tech challenges, and meet the ‘do-it-all’ needs of the modern technology business − be it big or small.

Tech careers remain one of the least-affected jobs a person can have, as the impact of COVID-19 forces physical offices to shut down. I’m specifically proud of the fact that we’re able to bolt on a guaranteed internship at the back-end of one of our new programmes − it’s a real-life differentiator for a student entering the daunting world of tech and makes them far more attractive to post-internship employment opportunities. Another differentiator is proper accreditation under the South African Qualifications Authority.

Today’s graduates and job-seekers need a wide set of skills, and they can’t afford to spend years of lost work experience and income, and hundreds of thousands of rands getting them. The world is forever changed, and we need to change swiftly with it. 

Riaz Moola

CEO and founder of HyperionDev and CoGrammar.

Riaz Moola is CEO and founder of HyperionDev and CoGrammar, which specialise in bringing programming skills, jobs and code review services to hundreds of students, and upskilling professionals in South Africa and across the world.

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