RedPanda Software article
With South Africa’s unemployment rate hovering around 27% (among the highest in the world), job creation and skills development have arguably become critical to the country’s economic and social stability. Fortunately, many business leaders and decision-makers are heeding the call.
Earlier this year, redPanda Software scooped an Employer’s Recognition Award when it was recognised by the Western Cape Government as having “played an influencing role in opening up gainful workplace based training opportunities” as well as effectively leveraging funds to promote skills development.
“We have been fully committed to skills development over the past several years. It has been intensely rewarding to see the very positive and tangible results of our efforts and it is a great honour to have received this acknowledgement,” says Gareth Hawkey, Group CEO, redPanda Software.
The MICT SETA has found that while software development is the skill that is highest in demand, it is also the most difficult to secure in the South African market. It is thus one of the SETA’s priorities to develop interventions and forge partnerships to address the scarcity of the skill. The redPanda partnership plays an important role in achieving this goal.
Since 2010, redPanda Software, with support from the MICT SETA, has implemented an internship programme whereby the company takes on 10 learners (unemployed graduates) for 12-month internships. To date, the company has taken on over 70 interns, and remarkably, 99% of these interns have remained at the company. According to Hawkey, some of the company’s top developers started out as interns.
“This uniquely high retention rate can be attributed to our recruitment process,” notes Hawkey. “We select our interns with very specific skills and roles with the intention of them becoming an integral part of the company – in other words, with the vision of a long-term commitment and prosperous working relationship.” redPanda Software prepares its selected mentors by sending them on mentor training courses that are National Qualifications Framework aligned. In addition, the company has partnered with experts to spearhead training initiatives and one-on-one coaching sessions.
“We moreover place great emphasis on networking and forming key partnerships, and we are, for example, affiliated to the Apprenticeship Game Changer programme with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism at the Western Cape Government.
We are also immensely grateful to MICT SETA for their consistent support throughout the years,” says Hawkey. “Fundamentally, any success within skills development and job creation requires vision and buy-in from leadership,” he adds. “It has to start at the top, with leaders acknowledging the immense value that youngsters can bring – and the many long-term benefi ts of actively investing in our youth.”