Track Talk W13

Embracing Adversity: a Learnership’s Story

Ezanne Grobler

15:15-16:00 CEST Wednesday 14th June

By creating our own learnership, we establish a way to “create our own” automation engineers. Our syllabus was designed to combine the required industry skills, whilst upskilling the learners in the tools and languages required by our main customers. Not only did we address our recruitment problem, but we also confronted social predicaments that our country is facing.

Our beautiful country, South Africa, is confronted with several social dilemmas as a result of our past. Two of these are the exceptional high unemployment rate, as well as upskilling in our previous disadvantage. In addition to these, within our software testing consulting company, we experienced a shortage of affordable automation engineers – with the right combination of skills – to address our clients’ needs.

Most of our competitors looked to the East to solve their problems, either by recruiting from there, or outsourcing their automation work. However, when we stopped looking at these problems in isolation, and instead combined the skills problem with our country’s social dilemmas, we realized a perfect storm was created.

An individual WhatsApp message, describing the opportunity of the learnership, went viral. Within a week we received more than 5,000 resumes. Sifting through these was quite a task, but by using several assessment approaches, 15 successful candidates received offers for fulltime employment.

On August 1, 2022, these newly appointed learners embarked on a two-month academy journey. The syllabus included an introduction to software testing, fundamentals of test automaton, several automation tools courses, the principles of DevOps, the principles and ways of work of different development mythologies, as well as exposure to various application lifecycle tools. Our clients were pleased that we could place resources with them, who not only understand their challenges, but also had the skills to solve them.

What did we learn from all of this? Sometimes, by combining challenges, the solution presents itself. In our case, by redirecting our external focus, and finding solutions to our country’s needs, we found a solution for our own need as well.