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Two young women working together during digital job training in a WeThinkCode classroom
Story: South Africa

WeThinkCode Provides Digital Job Training for South African Youth

Project Overview

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The situation is particularly dire for youth ages 15-24, with more than 30% not in any type of employment, education, or skills training. When faced with this reality, young people aren’t able to participate in the economy, which is not financially sustainable.

Recent research shows a post-pandemic demand for 66,000 digital and information and communication technologies (ICT) roles, and an estimated 67% are entry-level positions suitable for youth. While demand for these jobs is growing, it’s challenging for young people from low-income backgrounds to access and afford the skills training and placement support needed to begin these careers.

Aiming to close the digital skills gap and provide more career opportunities, WeThinkCode offers youth from low-income backgrounds the opportunity to complete coursework, develop career-ready skills, and find employment in the growing software engineering sector. This program provides opportunities for young adults from underserved communities to be contributing members of the economy in just 24 months, enabling them to support themselves and their families through a career that was previously out of reach.

Attending WeThinkCode turned into the most life changing two years of my life. I now have an expanding career as a software engineer and can aspire to be whatever I want to be in my future. 

Alyson Ngonyama, 2019 Graduate and current software developer

How it Helps 

WeThinkCode meets the growing demand for talent equipped with industry-relevant skills, while also increasing opportunities for youth from low-income backgrounds to access quality education that leads to job placement. With campuses in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban, WeThinkCode recruits and trains cohorts of youth from low-income backgrounds. Upon graduating from the tuition-free program, students are placed in full-time jobs.

WeThinkCode serves youth from low-income households by proactively anticipating where its students may experience challenges and building in mechanisms for success. The organization’s model aims to:

  • Increase diversity in the tech industry by removing barriers to entry created through tuition costs and previous education or training requirements. When recruiting, the program focuses on qualities that translate to success in software development – such as problem solving, resilience, and teamwork – to provide opportunities to students of all income levels and backgrounds.
  • Graduate skilled software developers within 24 months by offering comprehensive, current training in a variety of programming languages and technology fundamentals. The program’s refined teaching methods and peer-to-peer approach helps overcome learning gaps that are common to youth from lower-income backgrounds.
  • Meet the job market demand for entry-level developers by building pathways for its students to join and participate in the economy. Students gain eight months’ work-experience through salaried internships during the program and are guaranteed employment with strong starting salaries upon graduation.
  • Provide student support outside academics. The Coding Youth for Success support model is built in partnership with employers and addresses topics like verbal communication skills, financial planning, technical tutoring, and balancing the situational and emotional needs of students.

Through this partnership, WeThinkCode has provided student support services to over 1,200 youth aspiring toward becoming software engineers, with 465 program alumni currently employed.

Foundation Project Lead