South Africa faces a youth unemployment rate of 60,7% percent, one of the highest rates globally.
Yet even as many multilateral organisations, such as the World Bank, point out that digital technologies can help Africa – and SA – leapfrog into the future, the country’s progress is hindered because the majority of software development is currently being offshored due to lack of skills, negatively impacting economic growth. One organisation aims to make a change by upskilling young people and fast-tracking their technology careers through permanent employment in the sector.
While many initiatives have been put in place to equip South Africa’s youth with skills, our nation’s youth still face significant obstacles to securing jobs. This is despite the fact that technology is being infused across all aspects of life, and software development skills are in high demand locally.
Officially launched in September, The Red Academy Foundation, aims to transform the future of South Africa by working with private, public and non-governmental stakeholders to go beyond mere training and to create guaranteed jobs for young people in the country’s IT sector.
“South Africa’s youth embodies the world’s future skills, yet a dire need for skills development and opportunity beckons. The Red Academy Foundation is a beacon of hope on a mission to transform the future of South Africa’s youth in our country’s tech sector. The Foundation supports talented youth to access experiential-based training for skilled careers in technology and innovation. Our commitment to youth employment is clear in its support of our beneficiaries in the redAcademy programme, where all candidates secured guaranteed permanent employment in the IT sector after graduation,” says Jessica Hawkey, The Red Academy Foundation’s Founder.
Based in Cape Town, redAcademy is an innovative skills and experiential learning hub that specialises in teaching coding and technology skills inside a live software environment.
By collaborating with South African businesses facing a massive skills gap, the organisation’s purpose is to build a sustainable tech talent pipeline for the future. The academy has a clear goal: to give carefully chosen, talented South African matriculants, with no previous development knowledge or training, the opportunity to sprint into their IT careers.
The year-long SETA-accredited programme gives youth the opportunity to work in a live environment, guided by senior developers, and gain experience on a client’s particular technology stack. Training also goes beyond pure academics to ensure that Sprinters have the soft skills and work readiness to step into a career in the tech industry immediately after graduation.
“Through redAcademy’s first graduation, we have witnessed the remarkable talent, passion, commitment, and drive of South African youth. Despite challenging circumstances, redAcademy has succeeded in transforming their lives and contributing to South Africa’s skilled tech talent pool, leading to permanent employment in the sector for Sprinters, as the academy’s candidates are known to their future employers,” says Hawkey.
Hawkey says that while youth unemployment and job statistics are staggering, South Africa is a nation known for defying the odds and rising up to create change, together.
“And, by collaborating with redAcademy, the foundation is looking to propel a movement that was already in motion, thereby amplifying the impact and touching the lives of more South Africans across the nation.
“This is a harsh reality for our nation, but one which we are determined to change. The success stories of redAcademy’s graduates are a testament to possibility, showcasing their successful journeys from employability challenges to permanent careers in the tech sector and expanding into various other industries too. Together with our donors and corporate investors, we are shaping the future of South African tech talent,” says Hawkey.
“By partnering with Red Academy Foundation, organisations will be able to sponsor Sprinters to attend in-person training by highly qualified lecturers, computer equipment, ongoing mentorship, access to customised industry demand-driven course materials, professional oversight and a stipend to allow Sprinters to focus on launching their careers.
“By extension, they will also play an important role in empowering youth in South Africa’s tech landscape, as well as fostering the next generation of the country’s technology professionals,” adds Louis Koen, Red Academy Foundation Trustee, and Founder of technology company, Crimson Line.