Sanlam Indie has launched a digital skills development programme to equip young South Africans with the technical and soft skills they need to survive the modern workplace.
Run in partnership with digital design education institution, Academy of Digital Arts, the year-long programme officially kicked off earlier this year and focuses on teaching skills that are scarce across local and global markets.
These include everything from software development and digital design to software product management. Acknowledging that as their own business grows, they will have a greater need for these skills, the purpose of the course is to prepare candidates to enter the workplace and add value from their first day. The programme also aims to address a dire need for more EE candidates with modern digital skills.
“The programme was created as a tool to invest in our country and in the skills we need going forward,” explains David Küsel, chief product officer at Sanlam Indie.
There are two core course specialisations – Front End Software Development and Software Product Design – with overlapping course units and specialist content for each.
The course content concentrates on the following core skills:
- Technical skills: Students are equipped with the technical and software skills to perform the particular job functions of a software designer or front-end software developer.
- Workplace experience: The course includes multiple opportunities for the students to gain actual work experience as part of the Sanlam Indie team.
- Workplace skills: The course includes two units designed to help prepare the students for the world of work. Equipping them with the soft skills needed to be effective as part of a collaborative modern workforce.
- InsureTech: Students will be exposed to the latest trends in InsureTech and they will learn how these innovations are changing the industry.
The culmination of the course is a final group project where students are required to research, design and code a software product from beginning to end.
Küsel believes that this kind of programme is important because students are finishing several years of study but they simply aren’t ready to enter the working world. “The technologies and tools students are being exposed to at university are often a bit far behind. This means that many leave university and they’re totally overwhelmed when they enter a modern business environment,” he continues.
While one may assume that the more technical skills are the most valuable aspect of the course, Küsel stresses that the soft skills are just as important. “It’s important to teach problem solving skills and to show students how to work with others as part of a team, especially in a workplace that is so fast paced.”
According to Küsel, they had 150 applications but only 12 students made the final cut. Sanlam Indie and the wider Sanlam group will look to employ a high percentage of the programme candidates once they complete the course.
“Currently, we just aren’t finding the skills we need. As such, I think that we have a real responsibility to do this kind of thing and we’re excited to see how the year goes.”