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JCSE aims to rejuvenate SA software development

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The Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), based at Wits University, has launched a new partner programme for companies to get involved in the upliftment of the local software development sector. 

Prof Barry Dwolatzky, newly-appointed CEO and director of the JCSE, says the partner programme aims to position the JCSE as a focal point for the sector’s growth and maturation as an industry.
The JCSE was launched in 2005 with almost R5-million in funding from about 20 companies which partnered with Wits University and the City of Joburg to open the JCSE. Gold partners included the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Unisys, the Meraka Institute, FNB and more.
“From the outset, the JCSE’s aims have been to promote best practice in software development within an African context, grow the country’s capacity to deliver world class software and develop research and training initiatives to strengthen the local software development industry,” Dwolatzky says.
The challenge is that, while players in the sector agree that these goals are worthwhile, how to realise them can be difficult to practically define, he adds. “Everyone subscribes to the objectives of best practice, capacity building and skills development. But how does the sector realise these objectives?”
Dwolatzky says he believes creating a focal point where companies can invest in these important building blocks is the key.
“The JCSE’s partner programme creates an environment where companies can invest in these ‘industry building blocks’ for the good of the industry as well as their own companies,” he says.
“Partners are awarded points for their investments, which can be spent by using the JCSE’s training courses, master classes and other events. These include the Continued Professional Development programme, professional certificates, CMMI courses and master classes from local and international experts.  In addition, companies also earn points for their contributions to sector-building initiatives."
Additional points can be bought at a 10% discount if partners need additional JCSE services. Individuals, small to medium enterprises and large corporates can participate.
“The partner programme creates a ‘currency’ with which partners improve their own companies and are rewarded with points for offering services which benefit the industry," says Dwolatzky.
“For example a company may spend its points by sending employees to the 'Introduction to CMMI' course, using their points to up-skill employees. The company could also make skilled employees available to teach on master classes at the JCSE. In so doing they improve the skills within their own organisations and simultaneously earn points and increase the level of skills within the sector,” he says.
As more partners come on board and the JCSE increases its offering, it will not only look to diversify its services, providing a greater choice to partners, but also reward companies for different kinds of contributions to the JCSE and the rest of the sector.
What results is an ecosystem – companies adopt best practices, improve their own ability to develop world-class software, improve the skill levels of their own employees, and contribute to an overall growth of high-level skills in the local IT sector, he says.