A young man’s journey from hopeless to hopeful – the employment journey of Chad Masella

In 2019, the international Spectator Index has ranked South Africa’s youth unemployment rate at 52.8% as the highest in the world; followed by Greece (36.8%), Spain (34.9%), Nigeria (33.1%) and Italy (32.5%).  Numbers to make anxious any and many young South Africans. Young South Africans like Chad Masella.

Chad grew up in Cape Town battling depression and anxiety while trying to find his place and path in the world. Chad always knew he had an inquisitive personality and loved playing computer games. So, when he got to learn about (IT) coding, it was a spark of inspiration that was a perfect fit.  He loved trying to figure things out, breaking them down just like a computer that is made up of different parts and trying to make sense of the different pieces and how they fit together again. He developed this passion for coding when he was in high school, but was also looking for something meaningful to do after completing matric.

Chad’s life took a positive turn when his passion and potential was spotted, and he was signed up for a year-long, full-time coding bootcamp and training program with Life Choice Academy in Cape Town, his hometown.  Non-profit organisation (NPO) Life Choice is one of the six Socio Economic Development (SED) organisations supported by the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation.  The Foundation’s singular focus on youth employment perfectly matches Life Choice’s mission to pursue skills that will lead to employment and economic activity.

The NPO has impacted over 200 000 people thus far. Their main aim is to develop school-leavers’ skills so that they can obtain well-paid and meaningful jobs within a period of 12 months.

The 12-month Life Choices Academy program is one that prepares graduates for entry-level positions in the tech industry. It is a rigorous, challenging program that requires consistency, discipline, and accountability but leaves graduates with a new lease on life and a whole new outlook. The program is structured so that learners received about 572 + hours of classroom-based learning, PLUS and this is a game-changer for success – about 189+ hours of personal & professional development.  This learning is topped off with an additional 960+ hours of internship learning all geared toward preparation for real world work experience and readiness.  This trifactor of skills gives Life Choice bootcamp graduates both the skills and confidence to competently enter the competitive work-force. 

Chad made the decision to commit to successfully completing the year-long training program with Life Choice Academy and his life changed.

He describes himself has having been a withdrawn child who grew up in a rough environment where unemployment was rife, but he always knew that he wanted to be different with aspirations to not live in the same ways other people in his community were living. But despite having these big ambitions for his life, things were not easy for him as a child.

In primary school he didn’t have many friends because, according to him, he felt out of place and just did not fit in with his peers.  He was a perfectionist and an introvert with different gaols to the other children which led him to disengage from others his age which unsurprisingly he says, left him with low self-esteem and confidence.  It also was around this time that he started stuttering and was “mercilessly” teased by his peers.

But he battled through the challenges he faced as a young boy who was somewhat unsure of himself and where life would lead him. And it was at the Life Choices Academy, where he found a career path that seemed right up his alley. But he found something else at the academy, a hope for a better life.

Chad’s work experience internship placed him at Momentum Metropolitan, the large financial service and insurance company whose CSI funds support the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation.  Their involvement in supporting the NPO included finding as many intern placements for Life Choice graduates as possible.

“Having a technical discipline, however advantageous, is not all that is needed when walking into the IT industry. You need to have a certain personal development that matches up to a professional development.  Having gotten guidance on how to balance my personal-professional-development, I found it helped hugely when walking through the doors of such a big company as Momentum Metropolitan in November 2018.  My training stood me in good stead for coping,” he said.

He also says that being a perfectionist, although he previously thought it to be a disadvantage, later turned into a great advantage for him. It has proven essential for a QA Engineer ha to be very particular in their work.  He now sees himself building a remarkable career in the tech and robotics industry.

Masella says he wants young people who are following his footsteps to know that it is a fun and exciting journey that can seem daunting at times. He wants to remind them that they will experience a lot of new things but to always enjoy it and have a laugh as often as possible and learn from every curve ball.  Be brave, and always look toward tomorrow. 

Chad now works full time for Momentum Metropolitan as a Junior Quality Assurance Engineer in the Parc du Carp office, Cape Town.

This release was supplied by M-Sports Marketing. on behalf of Metropolitan.

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