Ferronique’s story is part of our 2020 publication, Shift, where we join the dots between research, policies and young people’s experiences for an Action Plan that can help South Africa shift gears on youth unemployment.
“One of the scariest moments for young people in South Africa is moving from school into the job market. After matriculating in 2016, I felt a lot of pressure to succeed and support my family. I jumped straight into my first year at university. At first, I wanted to study cardiology, because my family had a history of heart problems. But in the end, I enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Human Resources.
Before even finishing my first year, I came under a lot of financial pressure, and was forced to drop out and look for work. I applied for a lot of different jobs, and interviewed for four. But I didn’t have the qualifications or the experience. At the end of 2018, after a year of searching, I finally found a full-time position as a public administrator. Even though I appreciated that I could now support my family financially, I worried that the job was not giving me opportunities to learn and grow.
One evening, while watching documentaries online, I stumbled across an advertisement for a platform that could teach people to code. This was a turning point in my life. Having never been exposed to coding before, I discovered a passion I never knew existed! I began searching the internet to get my hands on any material I could find to teach myself coding.
A month into my new hobby, a friend told me about an opportunity at Umuzi. They would be recruiting a group of female coders to train for BBD, a leading software company. I decided to apply. Two weeks later, I was invited to an Umuzi bootcamp, which would decide whether I would be accepted to the training programme. After I finished, Umuzi offered me the learnership! I was surprised at my luck! Getting to do something I actually wanted to do was rare for me. As excited as I was, I also knew this would mean taking a serious pay cut, which would make it difficult to support my family and pay off my student loan.
Taking up the learnership was not a guarantee that I’d get placed at BBD, and it would be risky to give up a full-time job. But my father gave me the boost I needed: ‘We’re going to support you’, he said, ‘as long as you have an end game’. I immediately resigned from my job to study web development at Umuzi. They provided a stipend which really helped a lot. I felt like I didn’t leave my family stranded. Months have passed and I’ve grown from a curious recruit into a competent junior web developer. In 2020, I began my internship at BBD. I see how far I’ve come in such a short time, and the stepping stones that Umuzi created to help me achieve my dreams. My plan for this year is to gain solid experience with BBD, which I believe will one day lead me towards true financial freedom.”
Find out more about how we can work together to ensure that young people like Ferronique are supported in their transitions.