In an increasingly knowledge-based world, information and communication technology (ICT) is a crucial part of economic, social and political growth.

In South Africa, the role of ICT in national development has been stressed by both government and the private sector. ICT is vital to ensuring a meaningful response to international pressures, and can also provide the basis for socio-economic development, especially employment provision. Simply put, within both a national and a global context, the value of ICT skills cannot be under-estimated.
But how is South Africa coping with the global and national call for ICT skills, particularly those at the intermediate level? What kind of training is being provided? Does it meet the needs of the labour market? Can the country feel confident about its ICT skills training resources?
Authors Salim Akoojee, Fabian Arends and Joan Roodt explore issues in 'ICT skills at the intermediate level in South Africa: Insights into private provision and labour market demand', published by the HSRC Press.
The research investigates the demand for intermediate ICT skills in the South African labour market, and assesses its supply by private education and training providers. Based on data from primary government sources, interviews with both government and private ICT company employees, and analysis of data from career and ICT websites, the publication provides an overview of the capacity and shortcomings in the field.
Private provision patterns suggest a robust sector with some specific traits. For example, due to rapid changes within the ICT field and a consequent demand for updated training, the sector exists in a state of constant flux. There is a considerable diversity in training provision, taking into consideration aspects such as client focus, ownership types and locational features.
Most ICT trainers at the intermediate level provide training at all levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) or training together with "soft skills" such as human resources. Most specialist ICT providers, those that provide ICT-specific skills exclusively, respond to the needs of the corporate market.
Types of training provision include part- and full-time and short-term courses, those offered for a fixed intensive period. Quality is generally regulated by the industry itself, with those providers offering better quality offerings, generally earning a reputation for their expertise.
In addition, it was noted that while progress has been made in the ICT sector with regard to demographic changes, there is still a need for the sector to respond to employers and the future need for ICT skills for the economy. Ultimately, three challenges remain – regulation, sustainability and quality.
"ICT skills at the intermediate level in South Africa: Insights into private provision and labour market demand" identifies a sector crucial to South Africa's development, and contributes to understanding of the supply and demand considerations in this field. As such, the research is key to strengthening South Africa's position in the globalised society.
"ICT skills at the intermediate level in South Africa: Insights into private provision and labour market demand" is by Salim Akoojee, Fabian Arends and Joan Roodt and is published by the HSRC Press.