“Every employer should help young South Africans enter the job market. While this is a start,” says Arnold Graaff, CEO of Code College in Johannesburg, “more needs to be done to help the younger generation find employment after leaving school.” Young South Africans struggle to find employment. In a drive to improve their lot, SARS now offers a special tax incentive to encourage employers to hire younger staff. If an employee is between the ages of 18 and 29 and earns R6000 or less, their employer can reduce the PAYE on their income as per the calculations set out by SARS.
Graaff cites the case of Xolani, a recent graduate of Code College’s Java Bootcamp. “Here was a young gentleman who met our basic criteria – a matric certificate with a comfortable pass in mathematics. Further, he took our aptitude test and the results were very positive. But he had no way to cover his training costs. We decided to give him the opportunity to realise his potential and granted him a study loan.” Code College offers qualifying candidates loans to complete their studies, repayable once they have found employment.
Students sit the internationally recognised Oracle Certified Associate Java exam and Oracle Certified Professional Java exam. Once they graduate, Code College’s sister company and top IT recruitment firm Compuways places them with a suitable employer.
Xolani did well in all the modules he studied and went on to pass his Oracle exams. He also completed the course’s practical web application development project with distinction. Xolani soon received two interviews, resulting in a job offer as a junior programmer with a client of Compuways, a developer of cloud-based business software.
The employer, met Xolani during the course. “We recognised his potential and were keen to see how he developed.” In fact, on hiring him, the company decided to repay Xolani’s study debt in return for an agreed period of service. Also, they immediately sent him on another Code College course to learn database programming. The client has used Compuways / Code College for almost 8 years for all its recruitment, training and certification requirements.
The employers says that while the demand is great, there is a distinct lack of skilled Java programmers in South Africa and the number of frameworks and technologies used by development companies varies widely. This makes it difficult for employers to find developers with the qualifications and expertise they require for their specific needs. So, companies are on the lookout for candidates who can apply logical thinking to deconstruct problems and build up solutions. It’s natural for employers to train junior programmers over the long term to nurture their skills. “Code College’s excellent courses follow the latest syllabi, turning out well-rounded junior programmers who have been exposed to the newest technologies and methods of programming. The result is that we can get new hires productive very quickly.”
Xolani says young people should take more interest in short courses. Many university leavers with computer science degrees find themselves overqualified and under-experienced. “Decide what you want to do, go for the short course and get the skills you need to start earning. The rest will come with experience.”
Through the efforts of companies like Code College, young South Africans have the opportunity to find employment and establish themselves in the workforce. Both companies encourage employers to support the youth of South Africa.