Posted on: Sat, 07/16/2022 - 09:49 By: Peter

There is an interesting dichotomy in the job market in South Africa.  On the one hand, unemployment sits at around 34.5 percent, and youth unemployment at a staggering 63.9% for those aged 15-24.   For those aged 25-34 years, unemployment sits at 42,1% (StatsSA).

However on the other hand, there is a chronic shortage of critical skills, most notably in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.   The ICT sector is experiencing a rapid growth in job opportunities, as more South African skills are in demand, according to Margaret Pekelaar, DevOps Practice People Manager at Altron.

The most in-demand skills in ICT sector today include:

  • Cloud skills and cloud migration – there are many opportunities for cloud engineers who manage, plan, architect and monitor cloud workloads, as well as developers, software engineers specialising in cloud computing and cloud migration engineers.  AWS, Google, and Microsoft certifications are in very high demand.
  • Data engineering skills – to collect, manage and convert raw data into a format where it can be analysed or used.  This includes machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science.
  • DevOps engineering skills – to work throughout the software development life cycle, from coding to deployment.  This enables companies to rapidly develop, test and deploy applications
  • Programming languages such as Python, Java, C, etc. – software engineers use these languages to develop front-end and backend applications and services.

According to Coding Nomads, Python is the most in-demand language.  Python is particularly in demand in the data engineering field and is used in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Data Visualisation.  Python is also used in other fields such as game and web development, and various other business, science and engineering applications.

Other in-demand languages include Java, JavaScript, C++, C#, C, Typescript, PHP and SQL.


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There is also a global shortage of these skills and many overseas companies are recruiting remote workers from countries such as South Africa.  International salaries for these programming skills range from $82,924 (R1.4m) to over $103,000 (R1.76m) per year, which equate to monthly salaries of well over R100k.    South African companies are thus not only competing in the local market, but also against international companies who are eager to attract our local talent. 

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Many international companies, such as Amazon have set up offices in South Africa to tap into our local skills for their overseas businesses.  According to Skills Portal, Cape Town has been established as a top destination for international tech companies, with over 40,000 people employed in the sector.  In addition to its infrastructure and cost savings, this highlights the country's most attractive resource for international businesses - its people.



Where to learn:

There are a lot of free online resources available to learn programming.  One of the simplest ways to learn programming for free, is to visit  They offer online tutorials for all the popular programming languages, as well as HTLM, CSS, jQuery and many others.  They have a very useful “Try it Yourself” coding window where you can experiment and tinker with the simple coding examples that they provide. 

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As you start becoming mode familiar with programming, you will need a good Integrated Development Environment (IDE) application (and of course a personal computer) to start building applications.  There are many free IDE’s available on the web.  Visual Studio Code, also commonly referred to as VS Code, is an excellent free source-code editor made by Microsoft for Windows, Linux and macOS.


Udemy and Coursera are popular online learning platforms.  Many of the good courses are offered for free, so you can get your toes in the water and see if programming is for you without spending anything.  For example, Udemy has a list of free Python courses available:


Another popular option is to attend coding bootcamps. According to Code Space, coding bootcamps are intensive training programmes that prepare students with practical, industry-ready skills.  They are intensive and often immersive training regimens intended to provide aspiring tech developers and professionals the skills needed to code professionally and the foundation to continue to learn as they work.

The top coding bootcamps offered in South Africa are:

  • CodeSpace
  • CodeX
  • iXperience
  • School of IT
  • Umuzi
  • HyperionDev
  • WeThinkCode


Finally, and this is probably the most important advice I can give to aspiring developers and ICT professionals, is to set yourself clear goals.  Write down your goals as you want to see yourself in one, two or five years from now.  Don’t focus on the obstacles – this is the biggest mistake many people make.  They worry about the obstacles and then never aspire to their true goals and aspirations.  Focus on where you want to be – write it down and make a poster to put it on you wall, so that you can look at it every day and remind yourself what you are working towards.  If you are determined and focused on your goals, you will most surely reap the rewards!