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LC Studios to usher unemployed youth into a lucrative digital future

Published: Jul 18, 2021 7:05:00 AM South Africa Standard Time

Youth unemployment in South Africa is spiralling out of control. On 16 June 2021, a day where the country celebrates the power of its youth, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that a youth unemployment rate of 74%* is ‘something no country can afford’.

Thankfully, there are organisations and initiatives dedicated to bridging the youth unemployment gap. Momentum Metropolitan Foundation in partnership with Life Choices has announced the launch of LC Studios – an initiative that will seek to give school leavers the web design and development skills as well ascareer direction they need to land meaningful and good-paying jobs.

Life Choices is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that provides the ground for youth to find solutions on their life journey. Their model is guided by a simple principal: humans have unlimited potential and they have the power within them to find solutions for the deep-seated problems within society – a philosophy that resonated deeply with the tenets of the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation.

Officially to be launched on 29 June, Managing Director at Life Choices Sofia Neves says LC Studio’s vision is fundamentally different. “The value chain has a primarily differentiated business model. It is predicated on the fact that qualifying students are guided and groomed for real world employment.”

Life Choices deals with upskilling students and would normally seek employment or internships for their students with one of their placement partners. However, COVID-19 disrupted the normal internship process and a solution was needed to ensure that these students do not fall by the wayside. The LC Studios ensures that students receive employment experience and skills training, before they can apply for employment at one of Life Choices’ placement partners.

“LC Studio has a number of mechanisms in place to not only maximise the effectiveness of client spend on work delivered by the Studio, but also to drive more young people into the marketplace. While servicing placement partners on a project, we still put the young person first, above making profits through the studio,” says Neves.

The success of this initiative to date has culminated in the real life projects that have been created, helping the current 44+ young interns increase their experience and hone their skills. “We have launched a number of websites, we have some internal projects that we are developing with the hope to launch them as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for the NPO sector. We have also recently on-boarded our first partner into our QA service stream, too. This opens up a whole new avenue of opportunity,” says Neves.

Although the “Academy of Graduates” are ‘employed’ by LC Studio, and receive a stipend from the Youth Employment Service, Head of Placements at Life Choices Ryan Geel still converses with human resources at each of their placement partners (which includes Momentum Metropolitan) to find full-time opportunities for the students that is currently servicing them on a project, thereby kickstarting their careers.

“This is always the ultimate goal,” says Geel. “Permanent employment using the skills we have taught them. We have a great relationship with all our partners and feel confident that LC Studios is going to play a key role in the future careers of so many young South Africans.”

LC Studios targets a unique audience in the tech entrepreneur who needs to quickly and cost effectively build their proof of concept to obtain funding from investors. “This shows a differentiated development skillset and problem-solving skill that typical small agencies can’t deliver,” says Geel.

According to him, this is a key pillar as it speaks to a number of the LC Studio differences including cost effectiveness, an un-jaded view of design and development, quick turnaround times, and locally appropriate points of view.

LC Studio – through its unique resourcing structure as well as NPO link – has a phenomenal story to tell. According to Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Momentum Metropolitan’s Youth Employment Portfolio Head, “This is less about web design and development, and more about empowering the youth of South Africa. As we are all catapulted into the fourth industrial revolution we need to arm our youth with the skills they need to compete and succeed in today’s job market.”

As one of LC Studio’s first funders, the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation believes in this critical approach to bridging the experience gap. In Mahlangu’s experience, oftentimes young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are prevented from entering the workplace due to a lack of experience - yet without a job, they are unable to get this much-needed know-how.

Momentum Metropolitan Foundation, through its partnership with Life Choices, enables a greater ambition to solve wider social problems such as youth unemployment. “If we can teach our young South Africans the importance of being resilient and equipping them with the skills needed to handle the demands of the modern workplace – we can start chipping away at the national shame that is youth unemployment,” says Mahlangu.

*Stats South Africa Data

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