All your questions answered right here…
I've decided to study IT. What are the criteria for a good college?
There are countless IT colleges in South Africa, but not all provide good quality education. As a career seeker, you need to be very careful about the type of institute you choose to study at. You should not be rash in your decision, nor should you base your decision on things like cheap prices or gimicky giveaways; after all, we’re talking about you future here.
Basically, when considering an institute to study at, you need to ensure that they offer you three things, as shown in the picture below:
You need to ensure that any institute you apply at is accredited by a national certifying body like a SETA. Feel free to ask the institute you are inquiring from about their accreditation status – it’s your right to know!
Besides the institute being accredited ensure that the specific qualification you are applying for is also accredited. There are many institutes that are them selves accredited, but offer programmes that aren’t accredited.
If they offer courses that are not accredited, they should be up front with you about it.
Many prospective employers require job applicants to have certificates from international vendors like Microsoft, Adobe, Comptia and HP. With other companies, even though it isn’t a requirement, it will make you look good to have international certificates.
The reason for this is that a vendor certificate proves that you have specialized knowledge and skills about the technologies for which you are certified, and will thus be more employable than other candidates.
This is arguably the most important of the 3 criteria, but is unfortunately lacking in most institutes. Most colleges and universities offer IT education that is theoretical, yet the field of IT is a practical one! The result: most IT graduates are unemployable.
Remember that any employer will naturally want to hire people who are ready for the workplace – that is, they have some practical skills. This saves companies time and money. It is for this reason that applicants who can demonstrate practical experience are more readily given jobs than by employers.
Make sure the institute you are applying at can provide you with practical skills. This is done in two ways:
- By offering courses that are practical
- By employing educators who themselves have real-world experience rather than just “textbook” knowledge, and are passionate about their work
IT varsity aims to always adhere to the above standards, and to provide quality education.
I've decided to study IT. What is a good learning path to follow?
If you’re serious about a career in IT, we recommend the following learning path for you:
Explanation of the above diagram
The world of IT is an extremely fast-paced and exciting one, and in our opinion a three year full time degree simply too much of a time investment for a student who is serious about IT because the best place to learn is the workplace.
Added to that, the total cost of a degree is around R100000, depending on the institute at which you study. In fact, the cost is higher if you consider things like books, transport, living expenses etc.
“I’m not dismissing the value of higher education; I’m simply saying it comes at the expense of experience” Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
As such we recommend the following to anyone who wants to get into IT (Software Development or Systems Engineering):
1. Do a one year National Certificate at a recognized institute that provides practical, quality education that will prepare you for the workplace.
2. At the end of the year, get a job in the field.
3. While working, choose a specialization field like Comptia, Microsoft, HP, Cisco, etc. and do their exams to become certified.
4. After the first year of working, apply for an IT degree at an institute like MANCOSA (they have an excellent Informatics Degree which combines IT with Management Skills – very valuable if you want to climb the corporate ladder at some stage), and study via distance learning while you work. In most cases, the employer will be glad to offer financial and other types of assistance.
The advantages of this approach are as follows:
1. You get into the industry far quicker. After all, the reason for studying is to secure a job. Once you’ve secured your job, you start growing professionally and financially.
2. While you study,you are gaining experience and going up in the salary scale. By the time you’ve completed your degree, you will have at least five years of experience! By then you are a valuable asset to your company and at a senior level. Salary scales at this stage are at least R20000 gross per month. (Check out Career Junction and PNet websites for confirmation of this).
Now compare the above with a student who goes straight into a degree programme at a typical university. Realistically it takes about 4 years to complete a degree. At the end of the four years, you will struggle to get a job because the courses are not practical. If you do get a job, you will be at the bottom of the salary scale, earning around R5000 typically.
3. More often than not, by studying while you work, your employer will pay for your studies, which is a huge benefit to you and your parents or the people who are paying for your studies. Remember that employers receive benefits from the government for up-skilling employees.
I want to study IT, but I didn't study IT at school. Will I cope?
Absolutely. Matric-level IT or even CAT (Computer-Aided Technology) are not prerequisites for any of our courses. We start every course from the absolute basics and work at the pace of our learners.
Added to that, our class sizes are small, so every learner is assured to get personal attention from our tutors and trainers.
Does IT varsity provide any special discounts and bursaries?
IT varsity provides a 10% discount to females who want to build a career in IT. We also provide a 25% discount to pensioners. We also offer easy payment plans on almost all of our courses.
We do not provide any bursaries. We have, however, approached a few organizations and asked them to consider providing bursaries to students who cannot afford to pay for their studies.
We can point them out to you, but you will have to apply directly to them.
Does IT varsity guarantee jobs for all its graduates?
No. And any college that does, is probably not being very honest.
What we do offer, though, are accredited courses coupled with world class practical training and mentorship that will provide you with real-world skills. That we can and do guarantee.
We also encourage our students to work hard and build real-world projects which they can then show off to the world, prospective employers included.
We have also established relationships with a growing number of IT companies who are prospective employers of our best and hardest-working students.
We guarantee that we will do all we can to prepare you and to launch your career (We are sincere about this. Nothing will make us happier than to empower you for life – that’s why we’re in this business in the first place), but we cannot ultimately guarantee you a job.
IT varsity offers practical training. Is this similar to in-service training offered by other colleges?
Not at all. The idea behind in-service training is that a student studies at a college, and is then sent to a company to work for a few months in the hope that she will pick up practical skills.
We have a few problems with that concept:
1. Software development is a practical, ever-changing field, and in our experience the best way to master it is to practice, practice, practice at a computer the moment you learn something new, not six months or a year later.
2. In-service trainees are teamed up with professionals who, as good as they may be, cannot provide the required training and mentorship because of work pressures. The result: the trainees are thrown into the middle of projects and left to figure things out for themselves.
3. Being a good IT professional and being a good mentor are two completely different things.
At IT varsity we don’t send our students to the working environment; we bring the working environment to them. We carefully select IT professionals and then train them to be good trainers and mentors. Then we create an environment where the student becomes the centre of attention, not the project. In this way, every student will be able to easily follow what is going on, and freely ask for assistance when they need it.