In a study conducted by IDG Connect focussed on the South African IT industry, some surprising results highlighted the perception that the current market lacks sufficient opportunities to advance into senior management positions.
“South Africa’s IT industry appears to be struggling with a continued skills shortage, despite a global economic downturn. Recent studies point to a continued skills gap while media articles often quote recruiters and IT employers complaining about a lack of key technical and management skills in the market,” IDG Connect wrote in their research paper.
The survey spanned over 130 IT professionals, of which 17% were IT Managers, 3.6% were CIOs, 15% were programmers, developers or business analysts, and 14% fell into the technical support category.
With this survey, IDG Connect looked at the issue of skills shortages and development from the perspective of the people who work in the industry. “We conducted an email survey of more than 100 South African IT professionals to gauge their opinions on job security, the future of the IT industry and their perceptions of training and skills development.”
Some results pointed to that fact that IT professionals are not very optimistic about future prospects. “Some 70% of respondents indicated that they perceive a general shortage of skills in the local market. This has translated into continued opportunity for South African IT professionals. About 76% agreed that their particular skills are in high demand and 64% said that their skills are in short supply,” the IDG Connect wrote in their results.
But while 70% said there is a general shortage of skills in the local market, half of the respondents said it is difficult to acquire the specific skills the South African market requires.
“The findings of IDG Connect’s inaugural Skills Survey closely match Insource ICT’s experience on the ground – and highlights the issues driving our shortage, including that many IT workers lack the skills needed to properly support newer technologies and that investment in the next generation is currently insufficient,” wrote Susan Rousseau, Client Development Manager for Insource.ICT.
South African IT professionals believe that the country is suffering from a gap in the IT skills that companies need to deliver on key technology projects. “The overwhelming majority (83%) of respondents said that South African IT employees are not equipped with the relevant skills for a market that is rapidly moving towards cloud computing and managed services.”
It is also widely believed that IT professionals are moving abroad, to apply their skills at international companies, and that very few of them return to South Africa with their gained knowledge. “Three quarters of respondents agreed that South Africa is still losing much of its best talent to other countries. Only 22% reported that they are seeing IT professionals that left South Africa to work abroad return in significant numbers,” IDG Connect reported.
In the survey, 75% believed South Africa is still losing its best talent to other countries, 78% perceived a return of IT professionals who left South Africa to work overseas, while 22% would move outside of South Africa if they had the opportunity to do so.
“In terms of South Africa, it will be unwise to seek better opportunities abroad at this stage, as the country is on the cusp of breaking out from the shackles that has kept it from implementing new technology. Once South Africa realises the skill many IT workers in the country can possess, it will completely change the IT landscape, which will speedily drive skill development and technology implementation forward,” wrote IT News Africa’s Consumer Tech editor Charlie Fripp in the research paper.
But the perception of better opportunities in the future did not resonate with the respondents in the survey. “IT professionals have mixed opinions about what their future looks like in South Africa. Just over half (52%) of the respondents to our survey said ‘yes’ when asked whether they believed South Africa would be a good place to be an IT professional five years from now. Only 12% said no outright and around 35% were not sure.”
The full report can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/RX6ayN
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor