South Africa’s specialised ICT skills gap persists, despite competitive salaries and efforts to build a skills pipeline, according to speakers at the Digital Skills Summit, co-hosted by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) at Leaderex 2019 in Sandton.
IITPSA’s Adrian Schofield, who collaborates with the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) on its annual ICT Skills Survey to be released later this year, noted that South Africa’s education system and enterprise environment were simply not geared to deliver high-end ICT skills in the numbers South Africa needs.
“Over 1.2 million young people go into the basic education system and if we’re lucky, around a quarter of them finish matric. How can they get a good start in the digital world if they can’t even get through basic education? There is not enough investment in basic education to create the pool of ICT skills South Africa needs,” he said.
He said while education investment was an important start, industry bodies, vendors and enterprises also had to invest in upskilling young professionals and giving them the experience they needed to enter the job market and progress into key roles.
Schofield noted that South Africa was losing highly skilled ICT professionals and seeing an influx of foreign ICT skills at the same time, which confused the issue and made it difficult to determine how many skills the country actually had, and what the shortfall was.
Total cost to company salaries currently on offer for graduate software developers were around $155.37 per month in Johannesburg and $162.12 per month in Cape Town, rising to $4,458.43 per month in Johannesburg and $4,931.30 per month in Cape Town for people with over ten years’ experience, he said.
But Botes noted that competitive salaries were only part of the appeal when in-demand skills considered job offers. “For in-demand software developers, it’s not just about salary,” he said. “They place great importance on the value of a job. This means they care about the work environment – their autonomy, responsibilities and opportunities to be challenged. They want to know they share the same values as their employer. And benefits and perks play a role too – right down to things like flexitime and free lunches.”