Kathy Gibson reports – Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a complex business requiring sophisticated and stable technology that integrates seamlessly and securely into clients’ operational systems.

“We handle 80 different technology stacks and the associated processes,” explains Mervyn Pretorius, chief technology officer of CCI.

“CCI plays in the international arena and we are proud that as a South African company we are able to do so. But it means we need to have a wide range of skills in our IT organisation.”

With 240 people in the IT team – the largest IT department in kwaZulu-Natal – CCI is taking the challenge seriously and is now turning to impact sourcing to grow its own skills.

The global IT skills shortage has largely driven the decision to establish its own IT Academy, empowering young people in their career progression.

With the experience of sister organisation CareerBox showing the effectiveness of impact sourcing, and his own life experience, Pretorius is confident that the approach of growing skills from scratch is a winning formula.

Indeed, about half of CCI’s IT staff came through the impact sourcing route.

“IT as a career is entirely achievable for just about anyone,” Pretorius says. “Some of our most highly-skilled professionals came in from CareerBox and are now filling very skilled, professional, and hard-to-fill roles.”

He believes the current thinking around who can do IT is flawed and is responsible for maintaining the skills shortages at precarious levels.

“We have beaten the myth that only a small percentage of people can do these jobs – the reality is that you can give just about anyone the right skills.”

CCI’s IT Academy steers away from an academic approach to IT and focuses rather on vocational training. “By taking charge of our own training we can keep on top of the most current technologies and make sure we teach the skills that are relevant to the job,” Pretorius says. “It is really vocation training and it is yielding results in a team that can operate – and thrive – on an international level.”

This approach also widens the pool and introduces a level of diversity that many in the industry battle to achieve. “It has allowed us to get a big female presence and to reach more people from disadvantage areas,” Pretorius says.