There can be no doubt that the South African ICT industry is in the throes of a major skills shortage, and it is going to have to invest more time and resources to alleviate it.
This is accord to Richard Rayne, MD on On-Site Training, who believes recent reports putting the skills shortage at over 70 000 people are correct.
Rayne believes one of the first points of departure for all stakeholders in education is to realign tuition and theoretical knowledge with practical, hands-on opportunities and thereby give impetus to skills transfer, development and application.
"The market is looking more closely at the feasibility and logistics of apprenticeships and on-the-job training. In addition there is talk of e-learning and distance education via technology coming to the fore," he says.
"The reality is that education systems in schools and at tertiary level, to a great extent, have not succeeded in producing work-ready candidates. At the same time, I am aware of instances where the curriculum is being changed to include more practical exposure to students in order to prepare them for the realities of the marketplace."
Service providers within the ICT training and education space continue to make a concerted effort to empower job-seekers with the necessary skills to at least present a worthy portfolio to prospective employers, says Rayne.
"Some providers simply cover the very basics of information and communication technology literacy. Others take literacy and specialised training to another level and integrate specialised business skills development to the offering.
"I believe credible training companies certainly have a vested interest in ensuring higher levels of applied knowledge in the industry and also support initiatives to encourage professionalism.
"Ultimately, however, we are facing the prospect of an imbalance in supply and demand of necessary skills to reinforce the country's competitive levels in ICT capability," adds Rayne.
In addition to the somewhat worrying picture depicted by statistics, Rayne also points to the ripple effect in companies and businesses.
"There is a danger of job-hopping and an exodus of skills. These are real threats that will also exacerbate the management of skills shortage, and have to be taken into consideration.
"All parties with a vested interest in boosting the country's ICT skills base need to work closer with education and training institutions, must support non-profit organisations and other established initiatives organised to address skills development," adds Rayne.