South African companies are increasingly struggling to find the relevant tech skills to meet their needs, while also warning that we are unprepared for the “jobs of tomorrow” in the fourth industrial revolution.
To better prepare for and avoid this outcome, the South African government has moved to introduce tech skills to the basic education syllabus, while other groups are also looking for ways to bring South African learners up to speed.
To this end, listed internet and media group Naspers has launched a new technology social impact programme, called WeCode24, which is re-examining the way computer science is taught in South Africa, by shifting attention away from the notion that it requires advanced, university level maths skills, and focusing on the elements of play and creativity.
“Digitisation is transforming not only our personal lives, but also our workplace. A common concern from the majority of corporate employers in a recent McKinsey report was the lack of skills of entry-level applicants and graduates who were inadequately prepared for the world of work,” it said.
“Most occupations — an estimated 60% —as we know them, will become absorbed by technological advances and will change. The people who will be employed — at both entry level and senior positions — are those who are able to understand and adapt to the digitisation of the workplace.”
According to WeCode24, access to these skills is difficult, and it hopes to provide an entry point for the development of these skills, particularly among historically disadvantaged groups.
In 2017 the group launched a pilot project at four historically disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape, proving learners from Grade 8 to Grade 11 – who had little or no maths skills – with the chance to learn to write code.
This project is now expanding to reach 500 greater Cape Metropole learners in 2020.
The free course focuses on text-based programming, using Python, a general-purpose programming language, combined with Turtle Graphics, a method for creating graphic images.
The project is a partnership between the Stellenbosch University’s economics department, Naspers, who is the funder of the project, and Media24, who will provide digital internships for the pupils to further develop their skills.
How to sign up
WeCode24 has invited all under-resourced schools in the Cape Metropole and Boland areas who are interested in joining the programme, free of charge, to send an email to [email protected] by 15 January 2020.
The name and contact details of the school should be included, as well as a brief overview of the school, motivating what it would mean to the learners to participate in this programme.