South Africa still faces the challenge of an ICT skills shortage within its borders, writes Saurabh Kumar, MD of In2IT Technologies.
According to the Grant Thornton’s International Business Report in 2014, “a staggering 83 percent of local (South African) businesses reported a lack of technical skills when it came to recruitment.” These percentages affect local business tremendously. However, organisations can start to address the skills shortage by looking towards outsource partners and thereby directly and positively impact South Africa’s own digital transformation.
The onset of digital transformation and the rapidly evolving pace of technology means that we have jobs and skill requirements today that didn’t exist as little as five years ago. Many emerging technologies require specific training and education, and companies struggle to source skilled people fast enough to meet the growing demand.
South Africa needs a long-term solution – a sustainable solution. South African businesses need to start leveraging the skills of specialist ICT companies for the upskilling of their local workforce. These ICT partners, beyond covering immediate local needs, can pass their skills on to local graduates through graduate programmes, paving the way for these – for the most part – previously disadvantaged individuals to have a career in IT.
Organisations who use – or are thinking of using – such companies would benefit greatly by partnering with someone who will ensure the gradual transfer of valuable ICT skills and knowledge onto their own employees.
Rather than reducing their workforce and keeping outsource partners on hand permanently, organisations can work with outsource partners who will include training and knowledge in their solution offering. A simple method being used is to outsource all run-of-the-mill, daily processes to focus on key business objectives, while continuing to drive digital transformation internally – with the help of an outsource partner.
South Africa has a large pool of knowledge-hungry people who have the proper background and foundation to become properly skilled in today’s technologies; it has the possibility of becoming a global outsourcing hub. Some outsource companies are already tapping into that pool, offering learnerships to appropriate local candidates to pass on skills, knowledge and experience. With such initiatives on the rise – and with the goal being to not take jobs out of the country – many organisations can benefit from partnering with outsource who have local presence.
Taking advantage of the skills of outsource partners while upskilling one’s own workforce means that organisations can take their digital transformation forward while maintaining current operations, improving efficiencies and cutting costs where necessary. It is important, however, for such organisations to ensure their processes and training procedures are standardised for simplification and, in order to keep pace with global standards, that they follow global compliances as well.
Addressing the technology skills shortages internally, within the workplace and using suitably skilled and amenable outsource partners, means that businesses can begin to create a skilled and globally competent workforce, contributing directly to South Africa’s own digital transformation.