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Tech experts on Friday said that the technology industry remains a lucrative option for South African school leavers, especially given the shortage of tech skills within the country.

With matric results now out, young people across South Africa are looking to figure out what career they should pursue. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the national matric pass rate had increased from 75.1 percent in 2017 to 78.2 in 2018, with Gauteng leading the provinces followed by the Free State. 

Experts say that young people can attain digital and technology skills without having to go through traditional universities, and the technology space is desperate for locally-grown talent.

Glenn Gillis, chief executive and founder of Sea Monster Entertainment — an animation, gaming and augmented reality business based in Cape Town — said even if school leavers do not want to pursue a career in technology, they would do well to ensure that they have some digital skills when they enter the workplace.   

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“The great thing for any young person wanting to get into the technology space is that it’s constantly evolving, meaning that there are always new avenues to explore. You only have to look at the recent explosion of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality to see this,” Gillis said.

Gillis said that means demand for people skilled in them will only grow, especially in developing markets like South Africa. 

“At present, the best way to get into these spaces is to build on a good coding foundation with experimentation and online courses. That said, opportunities are starting to emerge in the formal space, most notably with UWC’s Postgraduate Diploma in e-Skills with Immersive Technologies,” 

Mich Atagana, head of communications and public affairs for South Africa at Google, said school leavers need to prepare for a more technologically- and digitally-led future, regardless of the career fields high school leavers wish to pursue.

“As we move closer to the fourth industrial revolution, South Africa is in need of a technologically skilled workforce and digitally-based economic expansion. It’s very important that young people prepare for these changes while they still have time,” Atagana said.

Recognizing that traditional learning institutions are not always accessible to young South Africans, Google has launched several initiatives aimed at providing them with the skills they need to compete in the contemporary workplace.   

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“At Google, we strongly believe in empowering young people through our wide range of accessible programmes. For example, Grow with Google is an initiative that allows members of the public to freely receive the best training Google has to offer in order to grow their skills, careers and businesses.”

“In the same vein, Digital Skills for Africa is a programme that offers free Google courses to put users firmly on the path to becoming digital experts. They can choose the digital skills they want to develop, learn at their own pace, track their progress and even receive accredited certification to boost their CVs.”

-ANA