If global forecasts such as Computerworld’s annual Forecast Survey 2014 prove accurate, decision makers across Africa’s ICT sector will have little time to waste in recruiting the very best and most sought-after technical skill sets available.
The outcomes of this global forecast suggest next year’s level of recruitment of technical skills to be more or less the same as the figure predicted for 2013 (33% according to the 2013 Forecast Survey) , those with the right qualifications and skills will be in a stronger position in terms of negotiating contracts.
Academics and technology specialists have agreed that projected strong economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will also fuel the demand for skills.
Professor Andre Calitz of the Department of Computing Sciences at The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), in collaboration with Syspro and the Company’s marketing director Meryl Malcomess, claim that the World Bank has raised its economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa next year, saying that “strong domestic demand” coupled with higher production of commodities will lift the region’s growth above 5 per cent in 2014.
The Washington-based institution said in its semi-annual economic report that growth in sub-Saharan Africa was set to “strengthen” to 4.9 per cent in 2013 – as forecast back in April – and would rise to 5.3 per cent in 2014 – up from its 5.1 per cent projection.
“As in recent years, a number of African countries will continue to be among the fastest growing countries in the world,” the bank said in its report, naming Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone and Rwanda as top performers.
The ICT skills shortage experienced internationally, including South Africa, have also increasingly been experienced by countries in Africa. The ICT skills shortage estimates presently are between 20 000 and 70 000 in S.A. and over a million in the USA and Europe.
NNMU and Syspro have reportedly introduced a new BCom Information Systems degree programme and are actively pursuing training, utilising mobility and social media, across the continent.
According to Professor Calitz recent developments and increased usage of Social Media by organisations has seen new job titles being created such as Social Media Specialist and Social Media Developer and organisations seeking ICT personnel with these skill sets.
“Organisations are also increasingly mining and processing “Big Data” and new ICT job titles such as Data Scientists and Big Data Specialist have been created. Tertiary institutions in South Africa have responded by introducing courses in Big Data and I have further seen American Universities offering new degree programs in Big Data. Presently there are over 300 job titles in the ICT industry,” he has stated.
The qualifications in high demand are degree and diploma programs offering multi ICT skills, using current technologies with a software development component. The high demand for software developers requires a major software development component in the qualification program. Soft skills are increasingly mentioned as an important component in the ICT professional’s skill set he confirms.
With software and networking related skills dominating feedback in terms of what is sought-after, Cisco’s Corporate Affairs CSR Manager Alfie Hamid said the current networking skills gap is set to grow even further with the proliferation of broadband infrastructure across South Africa and Africa – and the inclusion of broadband expansion in the future vision and strategies of all African governments.
Says Hamid: “Adding to the demand is the current economic climate where unified communications, cloud computing, big data, virtualisation and smart networks are being adopted to save enterprises time and money, so the search is on for someone to manage those technologies within all sectors of the economy.
Demand for network ‘plumbers’
This will result in a massive increase in demand for entry level networking skills such as CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) Routing and Switching and CCNA Security and the more advanced CCNP (Cisco Certified Networking Professional), as these individuals will be the ‘plumbers’ of the network.”
Cisco’s Offset and Countertrade Manager, Business Transformation and Operations, Edrei Schoeman says that the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert) is a sought-after qualification, not only within the Cisco environment but also on any vendor platform.
She believes that some of the positions that will be most in demand include Project Managers that can deliver on quality, execution and implementation/delivery requirements and entrepreneurs/creative skills from an innovation and lateral thinking point of view.
Richard Rayne, Managing Director of iLearn, a South African specialist provider of ONSITE instructor-led and ONLINE elearning training methodologies, iLearn, says there are several qualifications and certification that will stand out next year.
These include: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (Windows Server 2012), Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional, ITIL, CompTIA Security+, CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), Red Hat Certified Engineer and PMP.
Research suggests that software development or application development, Software Quality Assurance testing, networking, security, business analytics, database administration, project management, as well as mobile applications and device management will all dominate ICT skills recruitment and placement next year.
* Image via Shutterstock
Chris Tredger – Online Editor