May 2021 – Cape Town – South Africa has approximately 66,000 digital jobs available, 60% of which are suitable for first-time, entry-level workers. This skills shortage not only effects local companies in their fight for digital talent, but because of it South Africa ends up outsourcing this digital work and expertise to other countries, which translates into an estimated lost export revenue for South Africa of about R8,5 billion every year.

To appropriately skill unemployed youth to take advantage of these digital job opportunities – and re-shore lost revenue to the economy – DigiLink has been launched in Cape Town to bring young people into the tech economy and equip them for long-term employment.

DigiLink is driven by an industry-level coalition focused on the mutual interests of all players to increase total investment, translate this into concrete jobs, and fill them with skilled workers.

Over two-thirds of young South Africans are not in employment, education or training within 12 months of exiting the schooling system. Research confirms that 75% of these youth have no work experience. DigiLink gives work-seekers 12 months of on-the-job training to access – and succeed in – the world of high-value tech jobs. The simulated work environment provides mentoring and training to fulfil available entry-level jobs and the other skills necessary to bridge the gap for success in the workplace.

Evan Jones, group strategy director of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, describes the initiative as an excellent example of early-stage industry-level coordination in which a sector organises itself into an engine of inclusive growth. “Intra-sector partnerships have proven successful for both job and economic growth in other sectors. I’m encouraged that the digital sector is beginning to coordinate itself in the same way.”

Work-seekers ranging from graduates to those with digital skills certificates (from education providers like CapaCiTi Digital Career Accelerator for example), or are even self-taught, are sourced for DigiLink opportunities. In the programme, they provide managed digital services such as software testing and development, desktop support, and data analysis to real clients for real projects. They deliver on an agreed scope of work under the supervision of experienced team leads.

“DigiLink candidates are currently fulfilling some of Clickatell’s QA activities which we used to do in the US and Canada; proving that, not only can young South Africans do the work if mentored and supervised appropriately but also that we can reshore this kind of work and associated revenue,” says Pieter de Villiers, Chairman of SiMODiSA and CEO and Co-Founder of Clickatell.

Current candidates at DigiLink, have responded with hard work and pride in their achievements:

  • “DigiLink means financial freedom for me. It’s also a reminder that the dreams of a girl from a small village are valid and that I can achieve anything I put my mind to,” Kebaabetswe.
  • “My goal is to mentor young girls who want to enter the IT industry once I get employment,” Nontembiso.
  • “I cannot wait to enter the job market so I can help my family out of poverty – that is my aim right now,” Andy.
  • “DigiLink is helping me gain confidence in myself, gaining communication and teamwork skills, perseverance and motivation to keep wanting to learn new things. I cannot wait to share the knowledge and experience I have learnt,” Lerato.

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