In order to ensure an increase in the availability of software development skills, programmes must be established to enable people who study software development to have a way of gaining experience in the market, similar to a graduate intake program.
“The problem that most new developers complain about is not being able to get work without on-site experience,” says Pierre van der Merwe, Fujitsu applications manager, Core Services.
“Government also needs to give a larger number of school children the opportunity or access to equipment to start experimenting at a young age,” he says.
“Unless we get our youth involved and interested, we may run out of skilled resources due to the demand and rate of growth in the IT industry.”
Van der Merwe believes that SA has the ability to compete well in international markets and has the ability to export more software and resources, which could contribute to export growth.
“We can compete with the best in the world and the quality of our software is of a high standard,” he says.
“The current interest in software development as career at post-graduate level compared to past years is fairly high and demand is still in an upward trend, but probably for more specialised and focused developers.”
He says local businesses have been negatively affected in that more specialised software is being developed and implemented, but because of the skills shortage, higher salaries are being demanded by specialists.
“As IT is the way of the future, there needs to be more emphasis on software development at schools and more graduate intake programmes in larger companies.”
Fujitsu is also playing its part in development at grass roots level. Fujitsu’s Learning Through Experience entrepreneurship programme is a nine month hands-on course, based on Fujitsu’s successful UK model, that coaches young people in entrepreneurial skills.
It’s designed to teach students about the world of business, and provides a hands-on programme using today’s technology as the foundation for implementing successful business practices.
The students form a company, a board of directors and students are assigned support roles. Fujitsu personnel guide the decision making process, equipping the students with valuable skills.
“As the world’s second largest IT solutions provider,” says Nikki Carnegie-Floyd, head of marketing and alliances, “Fujitsu has ensured that the students have access to the latest technology and have engaged all Fujitsu staff in being part of the learning process.”
Carnegie-Floyd founded the Fujitsu programme in South Africa after acting as a business advisor in a similar programme in the UK.
“When the students enter higher education and eventually the business world, good multilevel IT skills are a must,” she says. “The programme aims to develop students into future business people who will positively contribute to South Africa’s business community.”