ABOUT d-lab

d-lab is a unique skills development and work-readiness programme for unemployed young people. We focus on design thinking and on developing the digital skills, character and ways of working needed to be successful, innovative and collaborative leaders. We enable our students to develop the competence and confidence to work well in teams to solve complex problems.

We envision a world in which cohorts of young, innovative, digitally-empowered design thinkers integrate their inner experience with outer reality, designing creative solutions to the challenges they meet in the world. By seeking to experience a fuller life, these change-makers prepare themselves to live in a state of wonder. They work and lead in high-performing teams – promoting the construction and deconstruction of ideas, asking the right questions, and co-creating desirable, feasible and viable solutions to deal with complex challenges.



Over the course of nine months, full-time, we are developing empathetic, collaborative, creative and imaginative young problem solvers – 21st century innovators who are effective in future-proofing the companies in which they ultimately work.

Design Thinking
Digital Literacy
Work Readiness

Theory of Change & Curriculum Framework




There is a massive demand in industry for people with high-level capacity in design thinking and digital literacy and with the ability to thrive in a workplace that is complex, fast-changing, and increasingly uncertain. Formal, conventional education and training is not producing new entrants to the workplace with this capacity.

Many employers express frustration at the poor levels of work-readiness of young people entering the workplace. They point to a gap between the knowledge and skills developed by formal education and the competencies needed to successfully enter and flourish in the modern fast-changing, digitally-driven world of work.

Innovation and the ability to make good on disruption have become critical features of successful businesses. We need young people who have the desire and the capacity to be innovators – who think in new ways that transform the businesses they are part of. We need young people who can apply the techniques and tools of design thinking, digital literacy, and complex problem-solving. This is not yet happening at scale. So, we have designed d-lab to solve the problem.      


d-lab is a 9-month long programme with two distinct phases:

Phase 1

A preparatory phase of online and face-to-face training. This includes daily sessions of problem-solving tasks and activities. Students are responsible for managing their own learning and building up a portfolio of evidence for their learnings and achievements across the programme and its learning outcomes. They are supported by subject matter experts who serve as coaches, a team of facilitators, and personal mentors.

Phase 2

The second phase places our students in the industry for hands-on apprenticeships. Specifically, they will join innovation and product design teams in business, where they will be part of real work contexts to address real problems.

D-Lab is fully accredited by the Institute of Chartered IT Professional (ICITP SA), a SAQA registered body.



To develop the character, skills and competencies for self-mastery and collective mastery in the digital workplace and digital world.

To enable participants to work effectively in any team to contribute actively and effectively in designing and creating solutions.


  • Make effective use of the foundational literacies (financial, data, digital) in designing solutions in the new world of work
  • Develop the competencies of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication and be able to manage risk and uncertainty
  • Develop the foundational character traits necessary for effective solution design, displaying resilience, courage, care, and curiosity, with high levels of integrity
  • Demonstrate fluency in design thinking, making use of a variety of tools & techniques as needed for effective collaboration, innovation, and human-centred design
  • Develop strong meta-learning capabilities and think in ways that are reflective and adaptive, exhibiting insights, metacognition, and a growth mindset


  • A programme accredited by the Institute of Chartered IT Professionals of South Africa (ICITP SA), a SAQA-approved body.
  • A talent pipeline of high calibre and employable graduates who demonstrate creative confidence – the skills, competencies and character needed to be effective members of innovation and product design teams.
  • A well-run programme with clear integration and hand-over points between the ‘in-school’ and ‘in-corporate’ journeys.