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Academy offering free training to tackle unemployment in the Karoo

Written by: Megan Ellis

A skills training academy in the Eastern Cape hopes to address the province's unemployment and poverty by providing free training for locals.

Named the Nerd Academy, the programme has been launched by companies Piehole.tv and ProcurmentExpress.com – international companies with offices in Somerset East.

The companies are using their experience with remote work to train students in skills that can help them find work with both local and international companies which outsource jobs.

However, these skills can also be used in the regular office environment and are relevant to a multitude of industries.

"Education at university level is not always possible for families in the Karoo. 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."

Priscilla Kennedy, Founder of Piehole.tv

The training gives graduates the knowledge on how to find jobs as a self-employed freelancer, making it easy to find work online even when the area they live in is short on employment opportunities.

The programme is still in its early stages, but hopes are that once the model is proven, it can be rolled out in other locations.

"Once we prove the model, expanding to other small towns across the country makes absolute sense. We're currently considering Bedford, Cookhouse and Alice. Right now there are people all over South Africa who could be earning dollars, but they're not. We think it's within reach."

Priscilla Kennedy, Founder of Piehole.tv

Currently, Piehole.tv is using their offices after hours as the site for training courses. Students complete online courses and tutorials that are available for free.

There are 20 students currently undergoing training at the academy, but hopes are that more students can be trained in future.

"Currently we have 20 students. We're testing the model and the curriculum, but estimate that we could process 60 students at a time, using 20 computers, working across 3-time zones (USA/Europe/Asia)."

Priscilla Kennedy, Founder of Piehole.tv

Both Piehole.tv and ProcurmentExpress.com also offer paid-for internships and permanent jobs for people who have completed courses at the academy.

The exact course plan and skills taught are tailored according to the individual's strengths, rather than a pre-prescribed programme.

"The plan is to look at the individual, not the group. For example, some people in our group are good at drawing, and we're training them to become storyboard artists. While they're doing storyboard sketches, we simultaneously put them on photoshop courses and the goal would ultimately be to get a design degree through Unisa and maybe even move to animation afterwards."

Priscilla Kennedy, Founder of Piehole.tv

"Other people already have degrees, but they don't know how to get business for themselves and we've got some training courses on pitching yourself online. Others just need to improve their English and typing in order to do administrative jobs. We also use a drama coach to help with speech and diction as we believe that we can be competitive in phone support and telesales areas."

Priscilla Kennedy, Founder of Piehole.tv

The academy is particularly focused on helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they can find employment.

The programme has already helped unemployed residents and low-income workers find jobs in online marketing, writing and office administration.

For more information on the Nerd Academy contact www.piehole.tv or +14152873566.




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