Lifeline to enter ‘gig economy’

Karoo hub offers ‘nerdy’ jobless free studies and training to access work

Unemployed residents in a small Eastern Cape town have been offered a lifeline and stand to benefit from a project that will provide job opportunities.
The Karoo Tech Hub has launched the Nerd Academy programme, a free initiative to offer unemployed people online studying opportunities and training on how to pitch to foreign businesses and become part of the “gig economy”.
The hub, based in Somerset East, is run by video production company Piehole.tv in collaboration with ProcurementExpress.com.
More than 20 people have already been trained at the Karoo Tech Hub.
Piehole.tv founder Priscilla Kennedy said the academy hoped to help solve some of the unemployment problems in the Karoo.
“Education at university level is not always possible for families in the Karoo,” she said.
“It places untenable pressure on the family, and if in rare cases they do complete a course, finding a job is near impossible.
“The Nerd Academy is one way in which we can assist to upskill unemployed people of any age, and then assist them to market themselves successfully.”
The academy, which caters for both technical and creative skill sets, aims to assist participants who display creative potential to build careers around their talent.
“We are working with three young people who are good at drawing, so we are coaching them to become storyboard sketch artists, while also putting them onto Photoshop and other design courses, with the ultimate goal being animation,” she said.
Nerd Academy participants are encouraged to pursue careers where they can work with international companies while in the Karoo and effectively become part of the “gig economy” – a labour market characterised by short-term contracts or freelance work as independent contractors.
This is much like the hub’s sponsors Piehole.Tv and ProcurementExpress.com, which both service international clients from Somerset East.
“We believe in earning dollars, [and] spending rands,” Kennedy said.
She said independent workers were on the increase, and that this was part of a rising global trend.
“By turning our Karoo Tech Hub into a tech campus we can assist in developing the skills and empowering these individuals to canvass for work across Europe, the United States and Asia.”
Kennedy said several roles in her company had been filled by people with no previous experience, but who had been fully trained by the hub.
In all, she said, the Karoo Tech Hub had trained more than 20 individuals.

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