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Deloitte works to attract young women to the ICT sector

Deloitte partners with GirlCode and iSchoolAfrica to host a Virtual Career Day on International Women’s Day

Aligned with its WorldClass ambition to impact 10-million lives in Africa by developing skills and opening up opportunities in the digital economy, Deloitte hosted some 200 university students aspiring towards careers in technology at its first Virtual Career Day with GirlCode on 8 March 2021 to mark International Women's Day.

In addition to supporting GirlCode through monetary contributions and volunteer work, the Virtual Career Day is Deloitte’s second successful event in partnership with GirlCode to inspire young women to explore opportunities in the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) space. The first was the GirlCode Hackathon in 2019, South Africa's biggest females-only hackathon.

Co-partnering for the event was the iSchoolAfrica Inclusion Programme, to facilitate the inclusion of girls with hearing impairments in the Virtual Career Day. iSchoolAfrica, enables special needs learners to communicate, create, study, work and play through the use of iPads which have powerful built-in assistive features to complement learners’ vision, hearing, motor skills, learning and literacy.
Deloitte's sponsorship of GirlCode, a non-profit organisation that empowers South African girls and women through technology, fits the organisation's global WorldClass ambition to apply its skills, experience and global reach to empower more people through education, skills development, and access to opportunity in a rapidly changing world.

Bonga Nyembe, Managing Partner for Responsible Business and Public Policy at Deloitte, says a lack of viable skills for active participation in the digital economy points to a need to fix the misalignment between the skills that youths have and the skills they need to participate in the future workforce.

According to Stats SA, in the fourth quarter of 2020, 41,8% of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 34 were not in employment. Nyembe believes that the business community is well-positioned to bridge the digital skills divide and prepare the youth to progress in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, “Leaders in the digital solutions space have the expertise and means to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in digital fluency and entrepreneurship.”

In the ICT sector, women are also less likely to find jobs, making up only 23% of the workforce, according to a study by Women in Tech ZA . "This narrative must change”, says Nyembe, “Women and girls should have access to opportunities so that they can participate in the digital economy, and pursue meaningful careers in the field of technology. Through the Virtual Career Day and similar initiatives, we can open young women's hearts and minds to the opportunities available to them in ICT, and with organisations such as Deloitte."

The potential of these initiatives in advocating for greater female participation in ICT and attracting more women to the field has been demonstrated by the journey of Vongani Maluleke, a GirlCode beneficiary who now works at Deloitte.Vongani grew up in a small town called Giyani in Limpopo, where she matriculated top of her class with a 92% average. She furthered her studies at the University of Cape Town, where she obtained a Bachelor of Business Science in Analytics sponsored by StudyTrust as well as an MSc in Advanced Analytics sponsored by Meraka Institute Data Science Masters studentship from CSIR.

In 2018 she participated in the annual GirlCode Hackathon with three university friends. Although her team did not win, the experience affirmed the course of direction that Vongani was taking and in effect created a valuable connection with Deloitte.

In 2019, she completed her masters with a cum laude and joined Deloitte as a Consultant in the Analytics and Cognitive streamline under Core Business Operations. Vongani further developed her master's research and Deloitte sponsored her attendance at an international conference where she received an award for her research significance. Today, Vongani is a Senior Consultant and is a GirlCode volunteer. She assists with creating Python course content and will be conducting Python lessons with GirlCode in March. These lessons are aimed at introducing coding to students in high school.