Organisations in Southern Africa have received a welcome boost to their digital transformation efforts with the graduation of the latest cohort of candidates from the SAP Young Professionals Program.

Tracy Bolton, Chief Operating Officer at SAP Africa, says the additional skills capacity comes at a critical time for the region. “Ongoing economic uncertainty, inflationary pressures and the impact of new technologies such as Generative AI are creating challenges for organisations seeking to unlock growth and drive innovation. With this latest group of candidates, organisations gain access to work-ready cloud and technology skills that can support their digital transformation efforts.”

Market challenges drive need for digital skills

Organisations throughout Southern Africa are beset with multiple challenges to their growth. Economic growth in the region stood at 2.7% in 2022, well below the global growth of 3.4% and the 3.8% growth experienced throughout Africa.

Business leaders are also striving to meet sustainability targets and deal with the impact of disruptive technologies, including the emergence of Generative AI and its application in a broad range of business cases.

However, organisations are hampered in their efforts at deploying technology to support their response to challenges through a pervasive tech skills shortage. In skills research conducted by SAP, nearly eight in ten (78%) organisations in the region said a lack of tech skills had impacted them in the past twelve months, with a lack of innovation, delays with completing projects, and a loss of clients to competitors among the most common impacts.

Graduates ready to make impact

The SAP Young Professionals Program, offered by the Digital Skills Center of SAP, is aimed at enabling young talent to utilise the latest SAP technology and innovation. The program covers software functional and technical knowledge and certification, with a strong focus on the latest technologies and a range of soft skills to ease entry into the workplace.

This latest cohort received training on SAP S/4HANA Cloud (public edition), SAP’s flagship enterprise resource planning solution, as well as SAP Activate and SAP Business Process Integration. In addition, graduates developed a broad range of soft skills, including design thinking, interpersonal skills, interview skills, and business model innovation methodology.

Candidates took part in training between early-July and end-August, and were chosen from a pool of candidates in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The full program took place virtually, allowing a broader range of candidates to take part.

Letlolo Baloyi, who is one of the graduates in this latest group, says: “The SAP Young Professionals Program has been nothing short of a catalyst for my personal and professional growth. Through a meticulously crafted blend of immersive learning experiences, mentorship, and hands-on projects, the program has equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of SAP’s innovative technologies and their real-world applications.”

Since its launch in 2012, the SAP Young Professionals Program has trained and graduates more than 4100 candidates across 41 countries, including over 1900 in Africa alone.

Bolton adds: “The program is aimed at supporting our customers and partners in the region by ensuring they have access to essential skills needed to benefit from their investment into technology, and forms part of our broader global commitment to promoting education and entrepreneurship. We wish the graduates well and look forward to the positive impact they will make at their new workplaces.”