South Africa is still seeing a robust demand for public sector IT skills – but the skills shortage is not as bad as many sources claim.
This is according to Mahlako Hlakudi, MD of Titan Trade Technologies, who says IT has been identified as one of the most pressing areas in government which needs to be addressed.
"There is a lot of rhetoric around our alleged lack of IT skills for the public sector, especially black skills. But there is not such a shortage of black IT skills. I believe this is a myth. A growing number of skilled black ICT workers are ready to enter the job mainstream, including the public sector.
"We certainly need to up-skill previously disadvantaged individuals – this is an absolute must for the economy – but it is in the process of happening.
"We are currently involved in a number of training programmes where we are up-skilling ICT workers in the public sector. It is certainly not all doom and gloom in South Africa" she says.
Hlakudi adds, however, that one of the bottlenecks is the failure of the internship programmes, which hamper the transfer of valuable IT skills and experience.
"A lot of IT training interventions have been implemented in the past two years or so. But these, sadly, have not translated into useable skills. This, from a logical perspective, is understandable if you recognize that people would want to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
"We need to find a way to encourage and offer incentives – or reward them somehow – so that they are galvanized to share their knowledge and experience. This will go a long way towards unlocking the potential of new 'recruits' who are waiting in the wings to enter the ICT sector.
"But saying there is a shortage of skills is a myth. The raw skills just need more nurturing."