Kerry De Mendonca, Talent Acquisition Lead at Altron Karabina, analyses what the ICT skills priorities are for companies operating in South Africa.
There are multiple ICT skills that are prioritised in companies across South Africa and they vary dependent on the organisation’s maturity, size and focus.
A common ICT skill focus across companies in South Africa at the moment is the transformation of their leadership tier. There is a shortage of African male and most certainly African female skills in ICT leadership roles, for example CTO, CIO and architect roles. Closing this gap requires a strategic initiative to identify high potential individuals in middle management positions who want to grow into these leadership seats through succession planning programmes.
Overall, companies prioritise a matrix of skills when hiring candidates within ICT roles. These skills are aligned to competencies that fall within soft skills, business skills as well as technical skills.
Within soft skills, companies look for people who have sound problem-solving skills, good interpersonal skills, a high work ethic and solid communications skills. In business skills, we look for an understanding of business processes, customer relationship management and project management; and within technical skills, there are multiple specific skills sought after, dependent on the company itself.
With most companies digitally transforming their businesses to drive optimisation and efficiencies, we see a high demand in software development skills within different programming languages (C# and Java appearing the most popular in South Africa at the moment); varying skills in business applications such as ERP, web services and transaction processing systems to name a few; and information management skills in the data space. There is also a growing demand for cloud-based services and linked skills to deliver against this need.
At graduate or entry level, there appears to be a gap in the ability of candidates to translate their technical skills into practical solutions that solve business problems utilising key soft skills. There are questions being raised about how this should be addressed in tertiary institution curricula, however for now this is a skills development focus for companies via their graduate, intern and learnership programmes.
Irrespective of the level and complexity at which an ICT candidate is being employed, most companies want well-rounded individuals who can add value to their company culture, vision, mission and goals.