INTERVIEW: How organisations can replenish the talent pool

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The global digital skills gap is growing at an alarming rate. Work is rapidly changing as the adoption of artificial intelligence grows, connectivity is accelerated, and new talent models and cognitive tools have become the norm.

IT News Africa’s Jenna Delport spoke to Terence Moolman, Chief HR Officer at SYSPRO Global on how organisations can replenish the talent pool, close the digital skills gap and create jobs of the future. Here’s what transpired:

When it comes to the tech industry, do you think there’s a shortage of talent?

Statistics are showing that the global tech industry is experiencing a shortage of talent. According to the Coursera 2019 Global Skills Index, a whopping two-thirds of the global population is falling behind in critical skills, with 90% being in developing economies.  


IDC echoes this in their 2019 Futurescape report, stating that two million jobs in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things, cybersecurity and blockchain will remain unfilled by 2023 due to a lack of human talent. The rate at which technology is evolving is faster than the rate at which skills are being developed.

The Coursera 2019 Global Skills Index also showed that MEA was the region with the most to learn. In other words, most of the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is below-average in skill proficiency. Israel is the one exception, ranking in the top third globally in Data Science (#1), Business (#19), and Technology (#19). South Africa, the next-best performing country, is at least 14 spots behind Israel in each of the domain rankings.

This essentially means that CHROs need to find a solution that does not involve a one-size-fits-all approach to talent management. Instead of favouring a localized approach, many are accessing the global talent pool, while upskilling their local staff contingent. 

What kind of role does digitalization play in bridging the skills gap? 

Technology and internet connectivity can provide global organizations with the opportunity to access a global workforce. By having the right knowledge around pockets of excellence and compensation needs, a new flexible workforce can emerge. Identifying these pockets of excellence requires the consideration of three factors:

  • Concentration of talent: A study by HackerRank identified the countries with the most comprehensive IT skills. Eastern Europe came out on top with the top four including Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Countries with the best developers included China, Russia, Poland and Switzerland. This is Africa’s main area of improvement and the reason why companies should implement ongoing training initiatives
  • Labour costs and efficiency: CHROs should match talent with competitive compensation. Unsurprising, Silicon Valley came out on top with $85,000 as an average salary for an American software engineer and the second-highest in the world, trailing only Switzerland’s $94,567.
  • Business Environment: The ever-changing business environment should also be considered when building a global labour force.  For example, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) holds the potential to generate new employment opportunities for an integrated African labour market, which would not be a possibility without the right technologies underpinned by high-speed connectivity.

How do factors like artificial intelligence, connectivity and cognitive tools impact employees?

It creates opportunities for employees to upskill their current skillset. We cannot deny that the rate of technological development is moving at an exponential pace and employees are facing pressures to adapt to new ways of working. 

In what ways do you think the job-hunting industry will change over the course of 2020?

Over the course of 2020, we will see more digital skills become a prerequisite, employees and employers need to adapt to the current changes. 

We will see more organisations leverage pockets of excellence across the globe in order to close the digital skills gap. By using a global workforce this also creates opportunities for skills transfer within organisations. 

Edited by Jenna Delport
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