Bnner Future

Investing in the future

South Africa’s official joblessness rate is currently at almost 35%, with youth unemployment at 66.5%. While there are many initiatives aiming to help alleviate this situation, the digital sector is currently seeing a skills gap that’s bigger than the jobs gap.

For over a decade, iOCO has invested in alleviating this situation with its Academy programme. Focusing on providing real-world on-the-job training that is backed by theoretical knowledge, the iOCO Academy relies on partnerships with customers, vendors and universities to ensure that it can help meet the changing demands of the industry while addressing both the skills and experience shortfall as well as the high unemployment rate.

The latest iOCO Academy curriculum is focused on test automation, with 15 graduates having been chosen to undergo two months of intensive theoretical tuition followed by a year of on-the-job practical training. Once the programme is complete, iOCO is helping enable permanent positions for the graduates by working with customer companies – many of whom are South Africa’s largest and most prestigious organisations – who require these specialised skills.

“Our local universities are producing IT graduates but opportunities for them are limited due to market demand for experienced skills. In addition, the development and use of new technologies is happening so fast, many university curricula are a little behind, leaving graduates with gaps in their learning,” says Beavin de Kock, Cluster Executive, Quality Assurance, at iOCO.

“We are proud to be able to contribute to growing South Africa’s skills base through our Academy, having placed hundreds of people in skilled positions over the years. We are looking forward to the same success with the graduates in the current test automation programme.”

de Kock adds that with the changes forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, skills shortages are being felt by companies across most industries and sectors. As businesses try to adapt to customer demands and an increasing need for innovation, many are struggling with finding the right skills that can enable them to stay competitive.

“Organisations have therefore started looking for partners that can offer solutions to help fill specific skills gaps. The iOCO Academy is not only enabling young people to enter the skilled job market, but is also helping corporate South Africa meet their evolving technology needs. iOCO remains committed to upskilling new entrants to the market, retraining and upskilling our own staff, and collaborating with tertiary education institutions to ensure that IT curricula meet the real needs of a fast-evolving industry. To that end, we have also developed a methodology that helps further plug the skills gap, ensuring local organisations have access to the skills they need, when they need them.”

iOCO’s OnDemand “follow the sun” approach has been specifically designed to address the types of skills shortages that are a common challenge for today’s businesses, de Kock explains. “While the Academy programme is helping more skilled individuals enter South Africa’s job market, each syllabus takes time to complete. Organisations requiring resources immediately can easily fill those gaps through our OnDemand offering. We have always focused on adding value to our communities as well as our customers, and are proud to be able to say that our skills development initiatives are helping develop the future of this country while enabling business growth at the same time.