Huge Telecom has opened a new training centre dedicated to the development of telecommunication professionals in South Africa.

Huge Telecom’s CEO, James Herbst, comments: “We’ve found that there is a definite skills shortage in SA as far as telecoms professionals are concerned. Tertiary institutions do not fully equip students for the type of work required in the real world and so we’ve needed to fill that gap.”

Herbst echoes the views of Oupa Mopaki, CEO of the MICT Seta, who urged companies to make an effort in the development of graduates when he addressed last year’s graduation ceremony of the then ISSET Seta.

“ICT, just like medicine and law, should know that university graduates are not skilled enough to join the workforce upon graduating,” Mopaki said.

Huge Telecom is one of only three telecommunications companies in South Africa accredited by the MICT Seta to provide such training and joins the ranks of Telkom and Neotel in its endeavor to develop the skills base within the South African telecommunication industry.

Rajen Pillay, MD of Huge Telecom’s business support division, says that the training will produce well rounded professionals who have both a firm understanding of telecommunications in general, as well as the specific technical skills required in the industry.

“Traditionally companies have provided in-house training to their technical staff which gives a very specific and limited understanding and isn’t readily transferable to other companies. Our aim is to give students a broad understanding of the industry and telecommunications protocols and then build their technical competencies from this solid foundation,” explains Jayanth Rajdeo, who heads up Huge Telecom’s training centre.

Huge Telecom’s training includes telephony signaling, billing services, voice security, media codecs and gateway control protocols.

“Going through the rigorous accreditation process with MICT Seta means that those who competently complete the course will have a formal credential behind them, based on a standardised and accredited system,” says Huge Telecom’s HR manager, Anna Karovsky. “Employers can take assurance from the standardised measurement and students can also use these credentials when studying further.”

Herbst says the accreditation is the result of many months of hard work and that the benefits to the company are numerous, “In addition to being able to build valuable skills in our country and ensure a strong supply of technical capacity going forward, we have also managed to document a decade and a half’s worth of valuable intellectual property which up until now has only been in the heads of our staff.”

The company plans to first run the program with its internal staff, after which it will open in early 2012 to other companies, school-leavers and graduates.