Collaboration and Global Exposure Can Help South Africa Deal With IT Skills Conundrum

IT skills are in short supply in the country, but exposure to international recruitment and human resource trends could represent a solution to the IT skills conundrum.

South Africa is wrestling with a sizeable IT skills dilemma. Not only is there a shortage in the number of available IT skills, but of the job seekers available, some cannot apply their knowledge in practice and others who can, soon move on to better prospects.

The problem is more complex than some would believe, says Nicol Myburgh, Head: CRS Technologies HCM Business Unit. “There is no doubt that businesses are being held back by a skills shortage. Many IT specialists have become virtually impossible to recruit. Often candidates hold the relevant qualification, but are unable to perform when put to the test.”

Some business leaders point to digital transformation as contributing to the shortage. They argue that businesses are under pressure to adapt operating models to accommodate remote working, connectivity and access, and become agile competitors in their industries.

Myburgh believes the root cause of this dearth of IT skills is linked to the hybrid business operating model.

“The fact remains that employees are capable of working remotely, having fine-tuned their adaptability and capability during COVID-19.  At the same time, there is a high demand for IT and telecommunications skills globally. The key point here is that many job seekers have the choice to emigrate and trade life in South Africa for other countries that have functioning infrastructure, lower taxes and higher salaries.”

This shortage is evident across many industries and sectors. In IT, the lack of available skills is hitting the software development space hard.

Myburgh says the fact remains that in order to address this, businesses have begun to recruit developers in other countries.

Retention over creation

According to Myburgh, the problem is not with skills creation or development – it actually lies with skills retention. “The solution really is to make South Africa a more attractive place to be, with improved infrastructure and business environment that is conducive to job opportunity, career growth, and a better deal for workers in their fight to keep living costs down. But that is something we cannot control.”

CRS Technologies believes that rather than South Africa grappling with these difficulties and internalising all efforts, it would be better to look at how other countries in the world are handling the problem.

“We need to get to grips with international employment trends and make it easier for local employees to secure digital nomad visas in other countries. This is especially true of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum computing and machine learning,” says Myburgh.

Like many recruitment agencies and human resource development specialists, CRS Technologies is of the view that while a lot depends on industry, job descriptions and business requirements, AI can replace people in some instances, but also create new job opportunities.

“AI should be seen less as a threat and more as a job enhancement tool. Where it does replace actual jobs, it is simply the march of progress – many jobs have been replaced by automation over the years, but in turn many more have been created. The job market is evolving and not being eliminated.”

CRS Technologies says it is becoming more evident that it is both technology and people that will drive this evolution and the role of business in it to improve the IT skills conundrum.


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