Education remains one of the most important investments any country can make into its future, and the overall education and skillsets of the 45 MTN App of the Year finalists of 2020 really underscored this point.
Every one of the developers has a postgraduate qualification, although the type of institution and qualification does vary. What’s interesting is how different the qualifications are, and how many are not the kind of education that would be traditionally associated with app development.
Of course, many of the degrees shaped the theme of the app – work and studies giving the developers insight into gaps in the market, or ways in which to improve on existing solutions or platforms – but there are the outliers that are inspired less by studies and careers and more by life.
When it comes to gender, the split is still primarily male, but there is notable female representation with the overall breakdown around 66% male to 44% female. It’s a positive sign, especially when put next to age.
A significant percentage of the developers were in the over-40 age bracket with two of the developers well over 50, highlighting how accessible and ubiquitous app development has become.
Only a few of the developers were below the 30-age mark, which does point to app development reaching a certain level of perceived maturity – in the past, the app developers were seen to be the young, trainer-wearing hipsters plugged into technology, today app developers are anyone with an idea and the commitment needed to make it a reality.
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The influence of education
Education did play a role in the type of app being developed. A logical step from choice of career to finding solutions to improve the value of that career. Apps such as Stokfella, Xitsonga Dictionary App, and Easy Equities directly reflect the career choices of their developers, but there are some outliers. The PR graduate with an app for pregnant women and the risk management graduate with an app for the transportation of children, are just some examples of how life experience has shaped their app development.
Overall, age does not appear to be a determining factor when it comes to developing apps. With a broad range of ages from 22 to 61, the trend that emerges is more in career choice and education than in age or gender or race.
Those who have computer literacy or tech-centric qualifications tend to create games, while those with a finance background have developed solutions that plug some very necessary holes in the industry, and then there are the engineers and mathematicians who have used their skills to develop apps that align with what inspires them as people, not just in their careers.
The most important nugget to take from it, however, is that education remains a key enabler for innovation and that more work needs to be done to make technology and app development more appealing and accessible to women.