TRENT ODGERS, CLOUD
AND HOSTING MANAGER,
AFRICA AT VEEAM
p to 20 million young people
are expected to join the African
workforce annually over the next
two decades and, by 2030, 60% of the
continent’s population will consist of
those under the age of 25. With the Fourth
Industrial Revolution (4IR) becoming a
focus point, all signs are pointing to the
importance of putting the technology skills
in place to meet the data demands of this
rapidly evolving environment.
Unfortunately, it has become very difficult
to find good ICT talent in South Africa with
many specialists immigrating to the likes of
Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand.
Simply put, not enough has been done to
fill this gap by educating scholars on the
potential that exists in this sector.
The time has come to show the emerging
workforce the value of being at the cutting-
edge of how the future is being shaped.
The ubiquity of mobile devices, the
emergence of cloud computing, and
faster (and more affordable) data access
speeds have contributed to the Digital
Transformation agenda. This has seen
companies struggling to keep up with the
data-driven expectations of customers who
are more connected than ever and have
access to so much information.
People want their social media queries
responded to in real-time and expect service
providers to develop products based on their
unique requirements. All of this is driven by
the growth of data and analytical solutions
that encompass Artificial Intelligence (AI)
and Machine Learning (ML).
The connected world is less about throwing
human resources at a problem and more
geared towards finding the right kind of
talent to complement the technology.
This means employees and graduates
need to be equipped with the skills needed
to unlock the potential that AI and ML
bring to fully take advantage of this new
technology driven world. These technologies
are replacing many administrative-focused
positions providing employees with an
opportunity to deliver more strategic value.
This value does not necessarily require years
of experience. Instead, it requires people
who are willing to apply their skills to a
variety of different things.
The out-of-the-box thinkers need to
adopt a ‘figure it out’ mentality as many
opportunities are new and still to be defined.
Those individuals that are willing to work hard
and go the extra mile will be the ones getting
the most advantage in this environment.
Companies need to reskill themselves and
be open to embracing data-led culture. The
emerging workforce have grown up only
knowing technology, continuous availability,
and instant gratification through real-time
connections. Moreover, those individuals that
have a broad range of skills will stand out
from their peers. This is where partnering with
tertiary institutions and government become
vital. The private and public sectors must
show, and support with the necessary training
and development, what the necessary skills
are for the 4IR and education must help drive
home the theoretical aspects of those.
Already, several youth development
programmes have been launched in the
partner and vendor ecosystems of ICT
solution providers. Still, more can be done
to attract and enable the youth towards
tech-driven organisations. South Africa, as
with many countries on the continent, also
needs to compete with the global market to
offer those talented individuals a different
quality of life that has less to do with the
job and more with how they live. Things like
physical safety, career opportunities, and
perks beyond a competitive salary are all
The ICT skills shortage urgently needs to be
addressed so that South Africa can secure
its future for the next generations to come. n