Free coding course for youth

Life Choices Academy in Lansdowne is offering a one-year coding course for free to matriculants.

The next boot camp will begin at the end of February with applications closing on Saturday February 8. Eligible applicants must be aged 18 to 25 years and live in Cape Town. Preference is given to young people from under-served communities.

The course promises to equip matriculants for the fourth industrial revolution; to boost personal and professional skills and give course-goers a head-start among the pack of job seekers.

The Life Choices Academy falls under the umbrella of the Cape Town-based youth development organisation, Salesian Life Choices, commonly referred to as Life Choices. The non-profit organisation (NPO), “invests in youth because they are 37% of the South African populationbut 100% of its future.”

The NPO works with youth from the communities of the Cape Flats to ensure they have a fair chance in life. The Life Choices Academy (LCA) is the most recent intervention offered by Life Choices and was set up in response to the coding skills shortage in South Africa. The organisation believes that providing these future-based skills can assist young people from the underserved communities to access well-paid employment opportunities quickly.

LCA offers a year-long coding boot camp. Successful applicants are trained in web development and programming over six months at the Life Choices headquarters in Lansdowne. During this period, students cover theory Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm. This is followed by students taking up paid internships in local businesses for a further six-month period. Academy graduates are well-versed in industry standard coding languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python as well personal professionalism after 12 months.

Sofia Neves, the managing director of Salesian Life Choices, explains: “Most youth from low-resourced communities can’t access or afford tertiary education, nor the cost of living without earning an income for the duration of their studies. In addition, formal education has repeatedly shown that it is not agile enough to respond to industry needs and generates graduates who are unable to find jobs.

“We need to challenge the premise that an individual’s ability to add value to the economy is solely based on one’s ability to obtain a diploma or degree. The world is changing too fast and education systems are changing too slowly. It is time youth education becomes the responsibility of a diverse collective and not only a task for educational institutions.”

What sets the LCA model apart, is its holistic training package which is inclusive of technical skills and personal/professional development. A Life Choices Academy graduate is trained in public speaking, design thinking, work ethics, awareness about diverse personalities, mindfulness and strengthening their own leadership qualities, among others. Graduates are also offered one-on-one therapy and coaching sessions during the boot camp.

While the LCA has announced its call for recruitment, it is at the same time inviting businesses to come on board as partners by hosting or employing graduates of the academy.

Said Ms Neves: “We have been able to successfully place 80% of our graduates in jobs. We have some amazing success stories where some alumni after just 18 months of employment, were earning monthly salaries of more than R20 000. We need industry to come on board to assist us to continue to improve our results and to continue being relevant. Together, we can assist young people to break the cycle of poverty and become the right human capital that South Africa so desperately needs.”

To learn more about the work of Salesian Life Choices, visit: www.lifechoices.co.za/ or the academy www.lifechoicesacademy.com