Corporate sponsors of Africa’s first peer to peer coding academy have secured their students for a 4 month WeThinkCode internship in 2017.
Telkom, Derivco, RMB, Britehouse and BBD were among the top South African IT employers vying for the cream of the crop at the sponsor day held in central Johannesburg recently.
Recruiters pulled out all the stops to attract their next generation of digital problem solvers who took a day off from coding magic to find out more about the working environments behind the big name brands.
WeThinkCode launched earlier this year and is fast becoming the most talked about IT talent development model in the industry. Modelled on the 42 school in Paris, anyone aged 17-35 can apply and go through the online assessments, but of the 30,000 who signed up on the website only 120 made it through the stringent bootcamps to be part of the first year.
Read: Wethinkcode and FNB #Feeshavefallen http://www.peteralkema.com/wethinkcode-and-fnb-feeshavefallen/
Not only is it a highly innovative learning model but it is also free and students even get a stipend; this is made possible by those sponsors who had the foresight to sign up even before the school had its premises.
Wethinkcode founder Arlene Mulder recognises there is frustrations with traditional skills pipelines;
“universities are simply not producing enough graduates to address the huge demand for IT skills, our first year sponsors believed in us from the start and today we have something to show them.”
IQGroup was one of the first sponsors and Head of Technology Enablement Karl-Heinz Wessinger notes a stark difference between the attitude of varsity undergrads and Wethinkcoders;
“these guys are hungry, self-motivated and ask about our working culture; varsity students ask about getting promoted, they tend to want too much too quickly.”
While this is a generalisation and South Africa’s universities rank among the best in the world, it is worth considering the revolutionary approach to learning that WeThinkCode has brought into the country.
It could well become the exponential learning model of the 21 st century; there are no classes and no teachers, much like Uber has no cars and Airbnb has no rooms.
Students largely come from poor backgrounds and cannot afford to pay for a degree or diploma; for some of the first year cohort it was literally their last chance at getting a job.
This is the hunger and self-driven motivation that corporates actually need in their workforce; most industries are facing disruption from new entrants, new thinking and the drive to change has to come from within.
Read: Banking and the real e-race, disruptive thinking, disrupted industries http://www.peteralkema.com/banking-and-the-real-e-race/
RMB also understands that new thinking comes from within and recently launched Foundery, a Fintech accelerator that will create new models of banking for the FirstRand Group by innovating with the latest technology.
One such project they are working on is Blockchain and this team were on hand at the WeThinkCode sponsor day to secure some ninja interns for 2017.
So far they are extremely impressed, 60 students recently attempted the Foundery recruitment test as an experiment.
“34 managed to code a transaction on the Etherium Blockchain successfully, to date we haven’t had a single other person achieve this”
explained Pete Munnings, lead architect of Foundery’s Blockchain team.
Foundery and WeThinkCode are also partnering at the upcoming FNB Codefest, an annual innovation event that includes a 48 hour hackathon where developers solve business problems using the latest fintech.
Besides producing Blockchain-ready students who can work through the night, WeThinkCode has a vision of recoding the future for the tech savvy youth of Africa.
“Anyone can become a world class software engineer; your background or financial circumstances should not limit you. WeThinkCode offers everyone the chance to #Recodeyourfuture; all the barriers are removed and it’s up to you to make it happen. We are already signing up the next round of sponsors and student applications for next year will open soon”
explained Mulder who also launched a student-produced video about the school on Twitter.
Students spent the afternoon showing off their digital problem solving skills to their sponsors who experimented with some of the software projects.
Advanced Video Coding, Artificial Intelligence, web design, blogging platforms and robotics were just a sample of what was on offer. Sherwin Hulley from Cape Town showed me an algorithm that he had built for route optimisation of small ant populations; a truly remarkable feat given how quickly he has done it.
FNB’s head of business sales Marcel Klaassen was also on hand to talk to interested students.
“We also need coders that solve our customer’s problems; we create ecosystems for business clients to help them succeed, these are largely enabled by technology. FNB is actually a big IT shop that provides financial services and in Business Banking we incorporate Agile software development practices to help drive a culture of technology innovation”.
FNB is also seeding one of its thirteen WeThinkCoder interns to Spark Schools to help with a school location platform that will support their expansion plans.
Spark Schools is a network of private primary schools aimed at providing affordable, high quality education; where they place their schools is crucial and technology will help solve this through the partnership with FNB and WeThinkCode.
Watch: “Turning challenges into opportunities and walls into stepping stones; what if we could recode the way the world works”