The South African ICT sector is experiencing skills shortages in 25 job categories, although a number of graduates holding these skills are still unemployed.

These are among the findings of the ICT Sector Survey 2021 report, compiled by Black IT Forum (BITF) deputy president and Soma Solutions group CEO Marilyn White Radebe, along with BITF executive members Mfundo Hlope and Sean Achim.

The report aims to give industry-specific input towards the 2020 Critical Skills List Report by the Labour Market Intelligence Research Program, to provide input in terms of whether the BITF agrees or disagrees with the critical skills draft and to consult with the relevant departments regarding their findings.

The report focused on individuals who are working in the ICT industry or have graduated with a degree in ICT.

Over the years there has been a rise in the use of technology as a tool to breaking into any industry and enabling people to easily find job opportunities at their fingertips. The survey showed that LinkedIn, CareerJunction and company websites are the most common platforms used by people to search for jobs. Newspapers are now rated at the lowest together with WhatsApp and Facebook.

The results further revealed that there are 25 skills in short supply within the ICT sector in South Africa. The skills considered the most scarce are Data Scientist, ICT Security Specialist and Data Management Manager.

“The porting of skills should be considered,” says Radebe. “For example, a Software Developer can develop his development skills by becoming a Full Stack Developer, while a Business Analyst or Project Manager could acquire Design Thinking, Agile and Scrum skills.”

The results also showed that the majority of the respondents who are unemployed with the scarce skills are graduates, with 51% holding an undergraduate degree and 41,67% holding a postgraduate degree.

The survey showed that 51% of employed respondents have participated in a graduate/internship/learnership programme and an overall 49% of them think that their careers developed because of the programme.

Other key findings from the survey include:

* Relevant industry organisations need to be considered when coming up with list of scarce skills.

* According to the scarce skills technical report, to acquire a skill takes three years, while internships/ learnership and graduate programs take between 12 to 18 months.

* A large number of graduates have acquired qualifications but have not been given opportunities to acquire relevant skills.

* Software development is also a vast discipline, with shortages in some disciplines but an over-supply in others. This is why skills porting is critical and ICT professionals need to be lifelong learners.