Valdy Walters, JumpCO software developer and IT Training Facilitator, speaks to us about developing young talent for the jobs of the future.
Tony: It is an interesting combination to be a software developer, but also to be a training facilitator because training is quite a challenging environment.
Many people share the opinion that the solution to youth unemployment is to increase employability and that means preparing them for the work opportunities of the future. This is exactly where you guys come in because information technology plays a key role in the future of employment. Please give us your views on that?
Valdy: My view, for starters, is that education that ensures youth employability begins at home. We must give our children the tools and knowledge they will need, and we should then start training them from a tender age in schools.
That is one point, the second is that companies are now trying to impart technology skills in training, including soft skills, which are unfortunately omitted from education these days. So, at JumpCO we try teaching soft skills as well as imparting technical skills.
The challenges are many. We need to combine various subjects to ensure our youth can learn rapidly. Solving unemployment happens as companies create development programmes with a view to embracing school leavers and taking them into apprenticeship or learnership programmes.
Tony: This is because, besides formal education, on the job training and talent development is an effective way to grow talent while people are earning an income, giving us a win-win with so many people who have been unemployed for a long time. What has your experience at IBM and JumpCO taught you about on the job training?
Valdy: I started in my early days as a trainer teaching IBM Message Broker, then moved onto IBM Watson and soon covered a wide array of IBM certifications. We now take our interns on webinars and training sessions organised by IBM, and train young programmers with the skills they’ll need to run IBM Cloud Pak for Multi-Cloud Management Solutions. I had the privilege of coding and programming education and I want to share my skills and experience with young people. It taught me to be humble and to adapt my approach and the way I view training, especially for the youth. At JumpCO we believe that on the job training plays a paramount role.
Tony: Coding and programming are very in demand skills, especially when you talk about the youth. The question is whether we have enough candidates with the needed aptitude for this type of career, which comes back to what you said about early development and preparing them. What early development is needed to feed people like yourself, JumpCO and IBM, with the needed candidates to develop?
Valdy: With regards to us getting the best from South African youth, I believe the return of career guidance from educational psychologists and counsellors in high school would be valuable. Youth should be encouraged to follow a vocation, not just think of monetary benefits when making career choices. In other words, finding the right match in a career rather than following the money. We get a lot of young people who believe that coding will make them rich, but they lack the passion to do it and don’t possess numeric skills. They are following the money, rather than their life’s purpose. At JumpCO we are motivated by passion and encourage that quality in the youth who come to our programme.
Tony: In closing, what initiatives are JumpCO and IBM currently involved in to achieve the development of youth in the technology environment?
Valdy: With IBM as a Gold Business Partner, we have access to a vast repository of knowledge and IBM resources. We can access important training and offer a splendid variety of courses and training options. We enrol our trainees so that they can easily acquire marketable IBM skills that will stand them in good stead as they strive to become full-stack citizens of the IT world.
Tony: Are you seeing positive results from these initiatives?
Valdy: The results are quite astonishing. Many people have gone through our programmes and have gone on to occupy prominent positions in the IT world. We are proud of them and are especially thankful to the people who were involved. Our partners, our management, our team and all the contributors to the programme work together to ensure that we see good results from our collective hard work.
Tony: Yes, it is the responsibility of every employer who has the ability and the resources to do some on-the-job training, development, and mentoring, because with South Africa’s unemployment problem everyone has a responsibility to do their bit. So, thank you very much to you guys at JumpCO and IBM for doing your bit.