Generation Z, those born after 1995, is starting to enter the workforce. This tech-savvy generation, born into a world where having a phone, a tablet and a computer is the norm, will soon make up one-fifth of the workforce.
In a country like South Africa where unemployment remains staggeringly high at 27%, this generation may well be able to step in where their parents can’t.
“The technology sector won’t singlehandedly be able to solve unemployment, however by providing new opportunities, exclusively available to young, tech smart individuals, it has the potential to make a real difference,” says Thomas Vollrath, company head of web hosting business, 1-grid.com. “Gen Z’s grew up with technology, they are a hugely valuable asset, who with the right training and mentoring can drive the success and growth of the sector in South Africa.”
Vollrath’s sentiment is backed by the Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC’s) latest Economic Impact Model report, which predicts local growth in the IT sector to reach R175-billion by 2022, creating as many as 119 000 new local job opportunities.
With one third of South Africa’s population being under 21, this could present a worthwhile opportunity for tech companies willing to invest and train from the ground up.
“We have a host of job opportunities within the company that didn’t even exist up until a few years ago – instead of bringing in talent from offshore, we should rather be putting time and money into local skills development,” says Vollrath.
“Companies with a firm understanding of the expectations and needs of Gen Z, and a dynamic and inclusive culture that realises the aspirations of each individual, will be well-equipped to maximise this generation’s potential. In turn this will help alleviate the skills shortage in the sector.”
According to the IDC report, the IT workforce is growing three-times faster than the national average, with growth being driven largely by the increased adoption of cloud services in South Africa. The shift to cloud is in line with global trends, with a Forbes Magazine report predicting that 80% of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud apps and solutions by 2019.