The greatest challenge facing South African youth today is unemployment. In the first quarter of 2021, the country recorded a 46.3% unemployment rate among youth aged 15 to 34: the highest in the world (Stats SA, 2021). Speaking to this, BBD executive, Precious Nkomo explains: “The unemployment crisis among our youth can largely be attributed to historical inequalities, a poor economy and cycle of poverty, exacerbated by a lack of education and a reduced skills pool”.
Looking to the future, however, as key players across the South African landscape give youth the right boost and activate more potential and sustainable job opportunities, economic prosperity and growth will surely follow suit.
Contributing to the solution
The reality is of course, that South Africa’s future and potential growth depends on its youth, and even more so that this large portion of society is able to embrace and are granted the opportunity to expand their skills in technology. An undertaking of this nature is urgent, and one that the education, public and private sectors all have a significant role to play in.
For business, this means taking active steps to increase the skills pool and to encourage more young people to become active economic participators, whether through employment opportunities or initiatives that boost employability prospects. By so doing, businesses can contribute significantly to building a pipeline of young talent to drive large-scale growth and advancement for the economy and country at large.
Speaking to our investments in this regard, Nkomo adds: “Doing our bit to empower our youth with digital skills is not only beneficial for our business but is vital to making a difference externally as well. That’s why we offer learnerships and internships and have implemented a highly effective bursary programme”.
BBD’s Bursary & Beyond Programme
BBD is passionate about technology and is committed to doing our part to promote social development and a thriving and inclusive technology sector. While faced with many challenges, one of the largest barriers to education for many young South Africans is a lack of funding, with the combined cost of education, travel, residence fees, textbooks and other expenses being prohibitive. One such way that we are working to empower South Africa’s youth, expand the country’s skills pool and create opportunities for employment is through our Bursary & Beyond Programme, a funding programme geared to help grow talented university students who are pursuing a career in software development.
Not only does the bursary contribute financially to the overall cost of tuition fees, but exposes students to fun projects, as well as grants them full access to learn from our Research and Development team. “Having our bursars work with and have access to industry insights from our in-house experts also goes a long way in bridging the significant gap and skills mismatch between what schools are producing, and what the industry needs” says Nkomo.
To really get their hands dirty, bursars participate in Vac Week, a week-long workshop where they get to play with the latest and greatest in tech, meet and work with inspiring, like-minded individuals and build friendships with other talented students soon to start their careers.
Where to from here?
As encompassed by ‘beyond’, our Bursary & Beyond Programme aims to see out the full cycle, ensuring a seamless transition from student to working professional.
Once the bursars have completed their studies, they then join our year-long Graduate Programme as junior software engineers where they work in client project teams. During this year, they are given the opportunity to get hands-on training through our unique gamified continuous learning programme, the Hero’s Journey to conquer new technologies, sharpen existing skills and see their full career ambitions come to life.
The benefits of such a programme abound adds Nkomo; “Not only are we attracting and cultivating employees with the skills we’re looking for at BBD, we are actively playing a part in collapsing the digital divide by offering opportunities to people who are bursting with potential, but who may otherwise not have been offered the opportunity to harness it”.
Looking to join our Bursary & Beyond Programme or know someone who might be a great fit? Find out more and apply for the Programme here.