Enterprise software application company SAP announced the Business Process Open Lecture, a global initiative and structured programme based on self-study through which participants can become SAP certified.

The initiative is being rolled out under the auspices of the SAP University Alliances and Next Gen affiliate, in partnership with SAP Learning, SAP’s business learning arm.

It runs from October 2023 to March 2024 and is open to any student globally. Application to the programme is cost-free and applicants will gain access to virtual sessions to guide them through the learning process to eventually acquire certification.

“It’s a fairly new initiative,” said De Wet Naudé, who heads up Universities Alliances and Next Gen, Sub-Saharan Africa. “So, in truth anyone could gain access to this kind of information online, but we have wrapped it in a bit of structure.”

University Alliances offers education programs and learning opportunities across its global footprint incorporating North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Universities in ten countries within Africa, including South Africa, teach SAP as part of their academic programme.

But, as Naudé points out, there are many academic institutions in Africa that are involved with the alliance just by virtue of them using elements of SAP technology but have not officially incorporated SAP into their academic programmes or curriculum.

Part of the University Alliances mandate is to keep tabs on market requirements regarding skills acquisition, retention, and development.

Naudé referenced World Economic Forum (WEF) research according to which 75% of organisations are experiencing a talent shortage. He acknowledges that skills development is one issue, but retaining these skills is another, with South African talent being attracted away from home and towards opportunities abroad.

He said there is a demand for skills including analytics, data engineering, data scientists and data architects.

“I can’t speak for the entire sector, but in truth, we can never do enough to attract and develop technology talent. My concern is also about the large population of unemployed youth and the industry does need to collaborate to help with skills transfer and development of these people. We need to figure out how to bring unemployed talent into the system.”

Naudé added that in Europe and other developed economies, it is easier to ‘get one’s foot in the door’. “South Africa’s economy, for example, is smaller and there are unique challenges to be able to enter the sector and pursue careers. The broader ICT sector can do more to support skills development.”

This article first appeared in ITWeb.