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GirlCode, AWS team up to foster female talent in tech

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Non-profit ICT organisation GirlCode and hyperscaler Amazon Web Services (AWS) have teamed up once more, to upskill 30 unemployed young women for careers in technology.

In a statement, the NPO says the women will participate in GirlCode’s Software Development Learnership − a new, free joint learnership training programme.

The initiative will run for 12 months at no cost to participating learners.

GirlCode says the participants will attend daily work simulated sessions at the GirlCode Campus in Midrand, with learnership course work focusing on the introduction to cloud-based computing and AWS tools.

They will work on practical projects, as well as learn and practise with relevant tech and tools.

The NPO points out that the last leg of the programme will focus on career skills, such as preparing for interviews, advice on navigating salary discussions, guidance on developing their personal brand, and assistance with CVs, covering letters and LinkedIn profiles.

Before selecting the 30 young women, GirlCode says it received almost 50 000 applications for the learnership programme, with nearly 20 000 women taking the aptitude test, from which numerous participants acquired test scores of over 85%.

“The sad reality of this seemingly great outcome is that there are brilliant young minds sitting at home without work and study prospects,” says GirlCode CEO Zandile Mkhwanazi. “Also important is that this in fact means organisations are forfeiting the potential IP that could be creating innovative solutions for the industry and our country, as a result.

“Given the result of the applications, this is a positive step in the right direction to address the tech skills gap in South Africa when it comes to women software developers. We are excited to work with AWS, as GirlCode aims to upskill 10 million women over the next 10 years. GirlCode will continue seeking more opportunities to empower more girls.”

As an organisation aimed at empowering young girls and women through technology, GirlCode notes it has consistently worked with the cloud computing giant in recent years, to realise their joint mission of fostering female talent in the tech space.

Linda Siso, head of education at AWS South Africa, adds: “Recent research shows that 32.2% of South African women were unemployed at the end of 2020, meaning that as a country, women are disproportionately facing unemployment. Education and skill development opportunities such as GirlCode’s Software Development Learnership are critical to helping to close inequality gaps in our society.”

GirlCode has also partnered with tech start-ups to ensure learners can gain work experience following their learnership.

“GirlCode would like to challenge more tech companies to consider partnering with them and other NPOs to collaborate on solutions that will close the obvious gaps that exist in the tech space, and to stimulate the idle minds that are eager to learn and work,” Mkwanazi concludes.

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