Business integrator Red Man Technologies has launched its Holistic Development Programme – a collaborative skills acquisition initiative that draws on the years of IT and management experience found in its management team as well as those of its clients and affiliates.
Mike McGrath, strategy enablement executive at Red Man Technologies, says that South Africa’s IT skills shortage is so acute, it is time for those with many years experience to pool their resources and expertise to invest their knowledge in the next generation.
“The usual array of courses plays a valuable role in helping newcomers acquire basic skills, but what’s lacking is context and experiential input," he says. "It is time that the expertise that is out there is pooled and shared. This would enable niche and specialised skills to be developed in more cost-effective ways alongside the more general skills that are being produced by tertiary institutions and private training firms.”
Often, says McGrath, those graduating from mainstream schools and colleges do not have the soft skills, such as negotiation capabilities or facilitating meetings or communication skills, essential to working in the IT industry.
The Red Man Academy initiated its Holistic Development Programme (HDP) for its staff and clients’ employees “to incubate skills that we can both use over time”.
“It makes sense to pool financial and other training resources to produce communally useful resources. That way our clients save on the time, money and effort involved in developing just one person with the specialist skills to do a particular job in the organisation.
“We can develop that person along with a number of people learning the same technical skills and provide several different clients with a specialised skill at a fraction of the cost they would otherwise incur.”
He adds that this approach is “the logical and most sensible way for IT training to happen, whether or not there is a skills shortage. The IT sector evolves too quickly and, sometimes, too radically for any single educational institution or business to ever be confident that it has all the IT skills it will ever need.”
The future of IT training, McGrath says, “isn’t ever going to be primarily about reducing the skills shortage. It’s always going to be about finding constructive ways for adventurous technology-focused minds to expand business possibilities. And this can only be achieved through the collaboration of industry players."