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Absa Group and The Digital Academy today showcased solutions designed to solve everyday problems, developed by students at the academy. A course in software development is offered as a collaboration between Absa and The Digital Academy.

Since the start of the initiative in 2015, The Digital Academy has trained 380 students, 196 of whom have been placed at Absa’s technology division as interns, contract workers or in permanent posts.

“Absa has collaborated with The Digital Academy for the last five years to build the talent pipeline in the local tech industry and within Absa. Through the academy’s six-month fast-track software development training course, run twice a year, 40 to 60 students are currently being upskilled every year,” said Thabo Mashaba, Head of the People Function for Engineering Services at Absa.

“The academy offers a unique approach to rapidly building the tech talent pipeline, while creating real career prospects and skills for young people who have the passion, but not the means to pursue tertiary training,” said Mashaba.

Statistics South Africa’s third quarter 2019 Labour Force Survey indicated that the percentage of people aged 15 to 44 years who were not in employment, education or training stood at 32.3%.

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“Through our collaboration with The Digital Academy, we are striving to build a much-needed pipeline of technology talent, both for Absa and the local economy,” said Mashaba.

“Currently, more than four in every ten young females are not in employment, education, or training,” which is why this collaboration with Absa is so important, said Gary Bannatyne, The Digital Academy founder.

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The academy aims to bridge the technical knowledge gap between matric and work, and brings students up to speed with the latest technology being used in the rapidly changing environment.

“It bridges the gap between the technology theory that students are exposed to at school or other tertiary training courses, and the practical experience they need to succeed in a real-world working environment,” said Mashaba.

Real solutions to real problems

Today, three groups of students presented the solutions they developed during their last six months of training.

1.

Challenge: Create a system that will give current and potential Absa customers specific information and guidelines for opening accounts, applying for loans and other services, without having to visit a branch. The system should also inform customers about the related requirements, such as the documentation required.

Solution: The team created a chatbot called Nandi, a 24/7 service consultant that answers frequently-asked questions from customers. This chatbot makes use of machine learning and captures data to improve its services.

2.

Challenge: A common social challenge is that, when people relocate to a different city/town and rely on public transport, they are often unaware of route options. Interns were challenged to create an application to help those who are new to an area, find public transport routes.

Solution: The team created an application called Kombi, which indicates the location of the taxi rank nearest to them. It also provides directions, cost, and taxi routes.

3.

Challenge: Create an app that allows users to store information in a way that connects data to their contacts. This could include, for example, contact information, meetings or workplaces. A user must be able to search for all users associated with a category.

Solution: The team developed Redbook, an app that allows users to create a contact card that does not restrict the volume of information that can be added. Users can add notes, workplaces, meeting places, and more. The information is pooled in a single network view that displays all linked contact information.