February 24, 2024

Silicon Savannah: a solution to bottlenecked universities and shattered dreams

3 min read

Despite the recent matric results boasting a 40.9% Bachelor’s pass rate, a sense of disappointment, disillusionment and desperation is sweeping over the class of 2023 as a cruel enigma looms.

Inclusion, accessibility and affordability are bottlenecking the potential of South Africa’s youth, stifling the aspirations of countless young minds and throttling the growth of our economy, warns career accelerator, ALX.

Traditionally considered the gateway to a promising tomorrow, tertiary education is unveiling a bitter paradox. “The corridors of these institutions, once envisioned as gateways to success, have become alleys where dreams are too often deferred. The dreams of thousands of matriculants have been devastated by oversubscribed tertiary institutions,” says Divesh Sooka, general manager at ALX South Africa.

Reports highlight that the University of Johannesburg grapples with an overwhelming demand, receiving approximately 600 000 applications annually for a mere 10 500 available spaces. Similarly, the University of KwaZulu-Natal received 120 000 first-year applications for a mere 9 000 places. These staggering figures underscore the severity of a crisis leaving countless aspiring minds stranded.

Job opportunities for youth remain elusive, according to the latest QLFS Q3:2023 reporting a 43.4% youth unemployment rate, with 4.6 million unemployed youth in the country. Sooka attributes this grim reality to a self-perpetuating cycle of unemployment and economic decline. “Students, in their pursuit of higher education, are inadvertently charting qualifications and courses that lead to a dead end, resulting in a mismatch between academic pursuits and the rapidly evolving demands of the workplace.”

In the midst of this conundrum, the transformative potential of the Silicon Savannah emerges. According to McKinsey, the demand for technology talent is projected to exceed 9.4 million jobs by the end of 2023. The World Economic Forum anticipates over 69 million new jobs from emergent technologies like artificial intelligence in the next few years, and a Korn Ferry report warns of more than 85 million unfilled jobs by 2030 due to a lack of skills.

The potential of Silicon Savannah to drive employment for SA’s youth

One of the world’s fastest growing and most youthful populations, with an average age of 19 years, Africa’s population is expected to be larger than that of China and India in just 11 years – positioning the continent with an unparalleled opportunity to address the global technology talent shortage.

“Our country is full of vibrant and passionate young talent that have the potential to address the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, while at the same time embracing a future-proof career in some of the most in-demand jobs in the world,” says Sooka.

Having trained more than 85 000 learners since 2021, with 85% of its graduates finding employment within six months, ALX is at the forefront of the rapid transformation happening in the tech education space and is on a mission enable SA’s youth to participate in the global digital economy.

The world-class career accelerator has partnered with The Mastercard Foundation to offer eligible learners fully sponsored access to some of the world’s most cutting-edge tech programmes valued at between approximately R57 000 and R760 000, with students only required to pay an affordable once-off administration fee ranging between R3000 and R8 000 (exchange rate dependent).

Available fully online, or at through ALX’s Tech Hubs in Braamfontein and Sophiatown, Johannesburg, applicants do not require any prior experience and only need access to a laptop and the Internet.

“Success is possible when education is accessible. With access to holistic training programmes that encompass both hard technology skills as well as essential soft skills, we can empower our young people to become agile digital leaders enabling them, our country, our continent and the rest of the world to thrive in an age of digital transformation,” concludes Sooka.

Image credit: frimufilms/Freepik

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