Software programming training academy WeThinkCode has announced plans to open a campus in Durban this July. The new facility will complement the school’s existing campuses in Johannesburg and Cape Town and is part of an ambitious plan to double their student intake to 600 this year. This will give more South Africans the opportunity to join the digital world and help build the country’s technology skills capability.
E Squared Investments has committed R9,2-million to establish the new campus.
“As an impact investor whose mandate is to attack poverty and unemployment in South Africa, there are strong synergies between WeThinkCode’s involvement in assisting disadvantaged young people and E Squared’s social entrepreneurship initiative,” said Cheryl Jacob, Head of Social Entrepreneurship at E Squared.
The capital will be paid out over three years and will go towards equipping the building, staff resourcing as well as costs towards establishing the new curriculum.
“We know that South Africa has a vast pool of untapped talent with the aptitude to be trained in technology. At the same time, our youth unemployment is among the highest in the world,” WeThinkCode‘s CEO Nyari Samushonga, explains.
“Like any successful business, WeThinkCode is evolving and continually improving its operating model and this includes making our programmes accessible to more people. Geography plays an important role here as many candidates are unable to access our existing campuses. Hence our decision to open in Durban, South Africa’s third-biggest metropole.”
WeThinkCode was established in 2015 by Camille Agon and Arlene Mulder who had a shared passion for education and to unlock untapped talent in Africa. Their vision met up with that of two friends and entrepreneurs Yossi Hasson and Justinus Adriaanse, who wanted to start a foundation aimed at training aspirant youngsters to code, thereby helping to build South Africa’s technology sector. The collaboration resulted in a unique organisation that has provided a combination of education, mentorship and vital digital skills to over 600 young Africans.
Commenting on the drivers behind the Durban expansion, Samushonga says, “The CoVID pandemic has accelerated the digitisation process in businesses and demand for these skills is increasing exponentially. The Durban metropole, particularly, has seen significant growth in business activity over the past few years. Hence our decision to open a campus there to satisfy this need.
“While much of our teaching is done online, we do have important teaching phases when our students need to come onto campus. In addition, there are two intern periods within the two-year course that need to be undertaken near our students’ homes. KZN youngsters wanting a start in software programming can now apply for a place on their doorstep.”
WeThinkCode’s two-year software programming course is fully sponsored.
Inclusiveness is central to the WeThinkCode ethos.
“The academy is open for everyone. Specifically, we aim to increase the number of women programmers on our course each year. Our target is for women to exceed 40% of our 600-strong student contingent,” Samushonga says.
Geographical expansion and the inclusion of more women are not the only evolutionary processes happening at WeThinkCode.
“Although we currently enjoy a 98% employment rate of our graduates at average annual starting salaries of R240 000 a year, we are also refining our selection process to reduce the number of young people who drop out of the programme,” Samushonga says.
“Finding candidates with the best aptitudes and attitudes is crucial and we are using a newly-developed approach to identify talent and uncover the required cognitive skills. In addition, we draw on the expertise of leading technologists for the design of our course material. These experts are continually updating the course as technologies change.”