THE TECH FIELD GIVES YOUNG PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO BUILD THEIR OWN CAREER PATHS.

Young people across South Africa are celebrating the release of the 2018 Matric results. While some are certain about what the future holds for them, many are still trying to figure out what they want to do.

Although the country’s high unemployment rate (54 percent among young people) might suggest that opportunities are limited, there are still several areas where skills are scarce.

“The great thing for any young person wanting to get into the technology space is that it’s constantly evolving, meaning that there are always new avenues to explore,” says Glenn Gillis, Chief Executive and founder of digital storytelling studio Sea Monster. “You only have to look at the recent explosion of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to see this”.

While these technologies are gaining traction, Gillis points out, they’re still relatively new.

“That means demand for people skilled in them will only grow, especially in developing markets like South Africa,” said the Sea Monster Chief Executive.

At present, the best way to get into these spaces is to build on a good coding foundation with experimentation and online courses. That said, opportunities are starting to emerge in the formal space, most notably with UWC’s Postgraduate Diploma in e-Skills with Immersive Technologies.

Even if school leavers don’t want to pursue a career in technology, however, they would do well to ensure that they have some digital skills when they enter the workplace.

“Regardless of the career fields high school leavers wish to pursue, they need to prepare for a more technologically- and digitally-led future,” said Mich Atagana, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, South Africa at Google.

Recognising that traditional learning institutions aren’t always accessible to young South Africans, Google has launched several initiatives aimed at providing them with the skills they need to compete in the contemporary workplace.

“At Google, we strongly believe in empowering young people through our wide range of accessible programmes,” said Atagana.

Digital Skills for Africa is a programme that offers free Google courses to put users firmly on the path to becoming digital experts. They can choose the digital skills they want to develop, learn at their own pace, track their progress and even receive accredited certification to boost their CVs.

As universities struggle to accommodate student numbers, programmes such as the ones provided by Google — as well as the plethora of affordable online courses currently available — may prove vital in ensuring that South Africa has the tech talent it needs in the coming years. If they’re to do so, however, young people need to ensure that they fully embrace all the opportunities out there.

This article was first published by iol.co.za on the 5th January 2019.