The Digital Academy’s first year has taught us all some big lessons.
One of our greatest challenges has been fitting our systems and methodologies around the formal learning environment. Our model works very well and solves a number of challenges for large corporates, but they rely on a very formal governance structure.
Luckily we have turned this challenge into an advantage by accrediting our programme to local, modern learning structures without impacting on the integrity of our experiential, practical and work-integrated learning model.
Another big challenge is expansion. We are able to effectively replicate our programme as it was designed that way, and we want to have more impact for a larger audience and continue to create futures and build products that have commercial intent. We are always on the look-out for new people to partner with.
Despite the challenges, we have been fortunate enough to have multiple achievements over the course of the past year that we are very proud of.
One of the most poignant is attending meetings with our partners and seeing former DA graduates sitting across the table, working on projects with us. These individuals have matured into young professionals, and it is a source of great happiness that we were able to provide that opportunity.
Another feather in our cap is to hear that the majority of the candidates sent to our partners have been permanently placed. This is something that drives us to be better and do more.
We have learnt so much over the past year, and many lessons have moulded our programme into what it is today.
We have learnt that we cannot be all things to all people.
We love to work with hungry young talent that has a passion for changing their lives. We can’t help someone who is not willing to help themselves. We provide all the tools, so there are no excuses.
One of our greatest learnings was in the creation phases of our product development. Our learners solve problems for our corporate partners in the form of digital solutions, and have to pitch ideas around these challenges in the very first week. We have come to realise that in many cases these guys and girls are looking not only to solve the corporate challenge, but they are also interested in solving the problem based on their everyday life experience.
This real-life approach is now one of our greatest strengths – and a lesson learned entirely by accident.
The future of The Digital Academy seems to be very much focused on the development of job seekers as well as the support we can create in the job creator.
We strive to be an industry last-mile standard and we aim to have a massive impact on our country.
We have already seen an appetite from the private sector to use our services in multiple areas across multiple skill-sets. Our model works, and has been very effective for our partners. We see the DA of the future moving into specialised areas such as networking, big data, cyber security, animation, gaming and UX/UI. We are able to cater our programmes toward the development of this talent – something which is very exciting for us.
We are expanding into other major hubs within SA, hoping to drive development in cities and provinces that have otherwise been left out of the digital economy. We plan to expand with corporate private sector partners that share our vision of transforming the country. But most importantly, we aim to build products that mean something to someone.
We cannot create solutions that are not locally relevant, but we can’t lose sight of global competitiveness either. Too many organisations are not nurturing our local talent but rather moving opportunities abroad, which does nothing for the development of our country or our continent.
The good news is that there is incredible talent in our country. Our challenge lies in refining the skills and giving people the passion and the platform to change the IT landscape of our country.
Africa is also waiting for us. They don’t know it yet, but we will be there.
By Gary Bannatyne, MD of the Digital Academy