IT is vital to bridge the digital skills gap in South Africa in order to minimise the rising youth unemployment rate and improve the livelihoods of young people in the country.

This is according to an executive as youth unemployment hit a record high, with 64,4% of those aged 15 to 24 unemployed. However, more jobs are becoming available in the tech space.

HyperionDev, South Africa’s leading provider of tech education, said the rise of the fourth industrial revolution resulted in an influx of digital job opportunities. The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Riaz Moola commented:

“However, locally this demand far exceeds supply, leading to a severe skills gap.”

This is reflected in the Institute of Management Development’s (IMD) Digital Competitiveness Ranking, which ranked South Africa at 60 out of 64 countries in 2021. The report measures the capacity and readiness of the same economies to adopt digital technology, with South Africa’s overall top weaknesses listed as digital and technological skills, as well as higher education achievement.

Software development has a relatively low barrier of entry.

Programming is far more accessible than most other conventional careers. For instance, law, medicine, accounting, and engineering require expensive degrees, years of study, and intensive exams or industry body registrations to accreditation to work in that profession. What is more, Moola adds that software developer skills were future-proof.

COVID-19 and the national lockdown highlighted the importance of tech skills.

“As brick-and-mortar shops and traditional industries ground to a halt, the tech space thrived with internet use, online and digital services skyrocketing.”

He also explained that chatbots, websites, online stores, and new customer platforms became essential, however, they need whole teams of trained professionals to keep them running smoothly.

“In short, the world relies on software developers more than ever, meaning job security in this industry is relatively stable.”

Demand for programmers outweighs the supply.

Moola added that even before COVID-19 forced hundreds of businesses to turn to online and digital services to keep their operations going, the tech industry was a growing force.

“To this day, the demand for professional programmers far outstrips the supply, and with more and more businesses going online, that demand is only set to increase.”

Moola concluded that as the digital world is constantly evolving, it offered a world of opportunities for all South African youth. However, he thinks that it is vital that all players in the country provide as much support as possible to provide them with much-needed accessible education to forge future-proofed career paths.

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