The current IT skills shortage in South Africa will only decrease once students get the vital mix of work experience and formal skills training currently hampering their formal employment.

That’s the view of ISETT SETA chief executive Oupa Mopaki, who yesterday updated the industry on the status of an ambitious R35-million programme with Microsoft SA to provide an estimated 2 000 internships in the IT industry over the next three years.
The Student 2 Business programme, which has already funded 1 750 student internships in the IT and related industries in South Africa since April 2007, is a partnership between ICT employers and training providers, ISETT SETA and Microsoft’s existing Student2Business programme (S2B).
Microsoft assists ISETT in achieving their targets with the Department of Labour, by assisting unemployed graduates to get training and a job. Candidates are recruited through the S2B Portal, where unemployed university and university of technology graduates are able to register. An extended academy caters for unemployed youth with only a Matric certificate, but who qualify for the other specifications of the programme.
“What makes this mentorship programme special is that it caters for both graduates and young people with only a matric who are interested in pursuing a career in ICT,” says Mopaki. “It helps unemployed matriculants and graduates get the skills necessary to obtain full-time positions in the industry through a mixture of on-the-job training, certifications and so-called ‘soft skills’.”
Mteto Nyati, MD of Microsoft SA, says the partnership with ISETT SETA would help build the local IT economy and assist students in getting their IT careers off the ground.
“Through this initiative, the private sector is able to share the obligation of accelerated growth in the IT industry and the broader economy,” says Nyati. “By specifically focusing on ICT and business-related students in South Africa, we’re helping to make a difference in skills and employment levels in our communities.”
Any unemployed South African student under the age of 35, with matric or a three-year business or IT degree, qualifies for the programme. Once accepted, they receive hands-on mentoring and training while in the temporary employ of a partner company, with the aim of further employment after the successful completion of the programme.