May 24, 2024

Shaping futures: Shaper and DSF empower SA’s youth IT talent

In South Africa, a transformative initiative is helping to tackle youth unemployment head-on. Shaper, a leading skills development provider, together with the pivotal support of Digital Solutions Foundry, under CEO Paulinah Teffu, equips young talent with essential demand-driven skills necessary to thrive in today’s workplace. 

In the heart of South Africa’s bustling economy, a silent revolution is underway, addressing one of the nation's most pressing issues: unemployment. Central to this transformation is Shaper, an innovative programme designed to equip young talent with the most sought-after technical and professional skills in today’s job market.

Skills for a brighter tomorrow

Born in 2015, Shaper’s mission remains to tackle unemployment head-on by providing young individuals with essential and in-demand skills. By first identifying the specific needs of businesses, and then developing tailored training programmes to meet these needs, Shaper not only addresses the skills gap, but also contributes to reducing unemployment in a meaningful way.

From classroom to boardroom

The Shaper approach focuses on technical skills, as well as the development of professional competencies, giving candidates a competitive edge. It also arranges for real-world, on-the-job internships, notes Sammy-Jo Ferreira, Shaper’s Programme Manager: “By immersing our candidates in practical, real-world scenarios, we’re able to give them an instant advantage in today’s competitive job market. Our graduates don’t just know the theory; they have hands-on experience that sets them apart from other candidates.”

She notes that Digital Solutions Foundry (DSF) has been pivotal in the creation of many of these internships: “DSF provides a platform for Shaper’s learners to gain invaluable workplace experience, enhancing their technical skills and personal development. Over the past year, DSF has facilitated over 20 full-time employment opportunities for Shaper graduate interns, exemplifying its commitment to giving back and growing talent within the industry.”

Power partners

Speaking on the partnership, DSF’s CEO Paulinah Teffu, says: “Our collaboration with Shaper is more than just a professional relationship; it’s a shared mission to empower our youth and equip them with the skills necessary to succeed. We are proud to be a part of their journey and to witness their transformation. At DSF, we have always had a vision of making the IT industry accessible to young talent, and Shaper is the perfect platform to turn this vision into a reality. Shaper graduate interns already have the necessary technical and soft skills needed for the workplace, so when they come on board, all we need to do is to teach them client- or project-specific elements of the job, and they can immediately start contributing in a meaningful way.”

Teffu says that the Shaper candidates that have worked at DSF have shot the lights out: “We have been so impressed with the Shaper interns, that we have employed all of them in a full-time capacity, and we have plans to double-up our employment ratio over the next 12 months. It’s truly is a win-win situation – the graduates are being upskilled and employed, and Shaper provides us easy access to some of the brightest young talent on the market at no risk.”

Success stories and sky-high ambitions

It is a powerful formula that works for both business and talent alike – and as a result, Shaper has managed to achieve remarkable results since its inception, says Ferreira: “Since transitioning from three-month courses to 12-month learnership programmes in June 2021, Shaper has seen over 250 individuals graduate. More importantly, it has helped secure employment for over 220 of these graduates.”

Shaper’s training programmes currently encompass a variety of technologies tailored to meet the current demands of different IT business sectors. For instance, the Full Stack development programme delves into technologies like Java Spring Boot, Angular 14+, and PostgreSQL. The Data Science programme includes training in Python (ML), SQL, Power BI, and SAS. Additionally, their Salesforce programmes equip individuals with programming fundamentals and certifications like Salesforce Administrator and Salesforce Developer 1.

Skills, jobs, and hope

Teffu concludes: “Through the combined efforts of Shaper and industry partners such as DSF, a new generation of skilled professionals is emerging in South Africa. This collaboration not only addresses unemployment, but also builds a brighter future for the country’s youth, and promotes the practical and functional development of much-needed skills that will help drive our economy forward. As Shaper continues to grow and evolve, its impact on business, the job market, and the lives of countless individuals will only deepen, driving South Africa towards a more prosperous and skilled future.”