Absa has partnered with training NGO WeThinkCode to probe the transformation of South Africa’s digital skills landscape by focusing on practical ways of reforming youth employability.
The programme will focus on candidate selection and matching, a demand-led curriculum, retention and ultimately the employment of graduates.
This collaboration looks beyond potential candidates being strong in maths and science, for example, to see if they show other aptitudes for coding and programme design, it said.
The partnership is tailored to become increasingly aligned to the skills needed within the job market. The banking group said it currently sponsors 60 out of the 300 annual WeThinkCode students.
“As a top investor in higher education in South Africa, Absa has applied a more rigorous approach to how we fund projects, now tracking the success of students we support, from initial application to curriculum through to finding employment,” said Makano Morojele, head of Education Reform and Employability at Absa.
“Over the past four years Absa has invested millions on education and skills development, supporting thousands of students in South Africa across 22 Universities, in various fields of study,” Marojele said.
Nyari Samushonga, CEO of WeThinkCode said: ”As we’ve grown together, so has the candidate selection model. This now looks at potential students who don’t necessarily have maths and science skills (more obvious to programming), but perhaps have high literacy in pattern recognition, problem solving or analytical skills – all of which can be applied to programming.”
“What distinguishes Absa as a funding partner is their hands-on approach. They’re deeply involved in the design of WeThinkCode’s syllabus programme as well, ensuring that the skills being taught are relevant to the market.
“Plus, there’s an added awareness of the importance of mentoring and support, critical for some young students because of the gaps in their secondary education,” Samushonga said.
The success of having a focused selection process and practical syllabus yields real results, with a 98% employment rate among WeThinkCode’s programming graduates, at average annual starting salaries of R240,000.
“Our course has been structured to meet the needs of South Africa’s corporate environment while bringing the best out of our selected candidates,” Samushonga said.
Absa said it aims to addresses the high fall-out rate of students; finding ways to create the momentum needed to keep young people engaged in their studies, to ensure that they graduate and beyond, to being employed.
“Our big picture is to align private and public sector skills needs with those offered at public institutions so that our syllabus mechanisms are in sync,” Morojele said.
“We have a huge unemployment crisis and both the public and private sector institutions need to be able to scale education at pace. To this end, we want our model to influence the wider South African post school education and training policy, bringing about a shift in learning focus and channels,” she said.
In some instances, such as the field of human resources, there are too many graduates for the limited positions available in the job market and Absa is committed to focusing on skills which are needed and are sustainable for both students and the local economy.