In its continuous effort to create a meaningful representation of South Africa’s ICT skills landscape, the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University has launched its 2016 ICT Skills Survey.
The 7th edition of the survey will aim to provide an outline of the current skills priorities and gaps in the South African ICT sector. The report is scheduled for release in May 2016.
Adrian Schofield, JCSE Applied Research Unit Manager says the previous editions of the survey were widely used by researchers and decision-makers seeking to understand the dynamics of talent supply.
“The survey assisted in understanding the extremely complex environment of ICT extending from technology support to enterprise architecture, from data capture to cloud computing, from digital design to broadcasting.”
Schofield says the 6th edition of the survey found that the state of the South African economy is depressing the demand for ICT skills as the sector’s clients cut back expenditures: “Although we have seen a global recession in the last few years, demand in Europe and the United States for ICT skills appears to be increasing or holding steady. South Africa is falling behind its peers in Africa (such as Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt) who are putting greater emphasis on the contribution that technology plays in economic growth.”
He says that the JCSE continues to express its concern at the lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education for the majority of pupils as well as the levels of transformation: “Exposure to, and familiarity with, ICT for all learners is essential to equip them to adapt the modern tools to their daily lives.”
Trends in technology adoption place increasing emphasis on ICT sectors such as cloud; big data/analytics; mobile; security and the Internet of Things.
Schofield says the ranking of the top five priority areas remained unchanged in 2014 from the previous survey. In descending order, they were Software as a Service/Cloud Computing, Network Infrastructure, Information Security, Application Development and Business Intelligence/ Knowledge Management, which now includes Big Data/Analytics.
“The research programme for 2016 will examine to what extent these issues have been addressed in the local market and the influence of change on other markets supply of ICT skills in South Africa,” explains Schofield.
A vital component of the report is the data gathered from respondents to two online survey questionnaires. One is directed at the employer community – any enterprise that employs people to carry out the vast range of job roles that make up ICT products and services.
“We seek to understand how companies, and other organisations, recruit, train and retain the skills they need and what the pain points are and how they perceive changes in the future,” says Schofield.
The other online survey is directed at the practitioners in any capacity and at any level. Schofield says the JCSE wants to learn how these professionals acquire current skills and what the plan is to enhance skills in order to build career progression.
“The JCSE ICT Skills Survey Report fills an important gap in the knowledge base for the sector and we appeal to respondents to please support this valuable initiative. The survey is open until 30 April 2016 and we are hoping to generate another excellent summary that provides significant insight for all those concerned with the ICT skills sector,” says Schofield.
“Any help in gathering the relevant and up to date data will greatly assist the policy and decision makers who work tirelessly to close the skills gap in South Africa,” concludes Schofield.