SAP Expert Looks at the ICT Skills Priorities for Companies Operating in South Africa

Johann Pretorius, Director Training, SAP Training and Development Institute, analyses what the ICT skills priorities are for companies operating in South Africa.

Africa has the youngest population in the world, and it’s growing fast. By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than 450 million according to UNDP.

The first ‘always connected’ generation, Millennials, is the best-educated in history, which provides organisations of all kinds with an immense pool of young talents. However, today’s youth is still affected by high unemployment rates. Youth unemployment in South Africa has continued to increase, reaching a shocking 52.9% according to World Bank.

At the same time, nearly two-thirds of global organisations admit to lacking the digital skills they need to succeed. By next year, more than 40 million high-skilled workers will be needed globally. Organisations across Africa are making good progress with preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but access to relevant and work-ready digital skills remain a challenge.

While it is clear that there is a skills gap and we have insights on the current skill priorities, in this everchanging Digital Era required skillsets keep changing at a fast pace and in-demand skills are not built overnight. South Africa’s growing youth population poses great opportunities for public and private sector organizations to successfully tackle current and potential future skills gaps – if they join hands.

One of the key challenges regarding the digital skills gap is that the responsibility of building the right skills is not shared between various stakeholders. Enabling todays and tomorrows youth, our future leaders, cannot be achieved by educational institutions only.

Skill development is a joint responsibility. Only if individuals, public, private and academic organisations work together and create a constant dialogue, we can close the current and future skills gap. On the foundation of public-private-academic partnerships SAP has created initiatives to drive digital skills build and create a quadruple win – local youth find a job, SAP customers and partners find brilliant talent, SAP enhances its ecosystem, and the economies in these countries benefit in their fight against youth unemployment.

SAP Skills for Africa is SAP Africa’s skills development and job creation initiative to tackle these pressing issues of our times. SAP Skills for Africa is aimed at developing ICT skills among African youth as part of SAP’s global commitment to promoting education and entrepreneurship, in line with SAP’s support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Two programmes, the SAP Dual Study Program (DSP) and the SAP Young Professional Program (YPP) are offered under the auspices of the Skills for Africa initiative.

SAP Skills for Africa gives SAP’s public and private sector partners access to work-ready talent that can drive Digital Transformation within their organisations. At the same time, this initiative supports young unemployed or underemployed talents to kickstart their careers and find meaningful work. The training is just the start, the on-the-job enablement at partnering organizations is crucial to develop program graduates into the leaders of the future.

To date, more than 385 unemployed or underemployed South African youth – and more than 990 across Africa – have graduated from the SAP Young Professional Program as SAP Associate Consultants. Through SAP’s close partnership with its customers and industry partners, over 99% of all program graduates secure work placement upon graduation.

This article first appeared in Intelligent CIO magazine.