These jobs are currently in high demand in South Africa


Of the 26.8 million active software developers worldwide, only 121,000 live in South Africa. Add to that the fact that 38% of African developers work for at least one organization outside the continent and it’s clear why tech talent is hard to find for South African companies.

The shift from monolithic on-premises IT solutions to in-cloud rental-and-assembly models further exacerbates the relentless demand for tech talent, both locally and globally, said Malcolm Laing, former Investec Group Chief Investment Officer and founding member of the Academy of Accelerated Technology Education (AATE).

He cited the latest ICT Skills Survey from 2021, which found nearly 10,000 hard-to-fill vacancies in South African information and communication technology (ICT). This in a country where 12.5% ​​of graduates are unemployed.

“There just aren’t enough technical skills in the country to meet business demand. That’s the crux of the matter,” says Laing.

The AATE is a new initiative by South African companies that aims to address two major challenges South Africa is currently facing: record unemployment and persistent skills shortages in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

“There is no lack of intelligence. These graduates are great – we find brilliant people coming out of the universities, but their technical skills aren’t quite what the job requires, so they can’t get off the ground,” Laing said.

He thinks this is because university curricula are not keeping up with the pace of technological change. He said universities need a stable curriculum while the tech industry changes its methods and resources every 18 months.

That’s not to say that universities don’t have a place in teaching fundamental engineering skills. “If you learn the basics of technology and you understand the impact of code, you understand the underlying fundamentals of the tech world.”

In-demand skills

Margaret Pekelaar, head of people in DevOps Practice at Altron Systems Integration, noted that companies are competing for a limited pool of IT skills and the pressure is mounting as demand for emerging technologies grows.

“Artificial intelligence and automation are rapidly changing the business landscape, and cybersecurity and cloud migration are more urgent than ever. In South Africa, IT professionals are able to secure global work, either through emigration or through remote work, making it even more difficult to bring in local talent,” she said.

“South Africa needs to upgrade its own ICT skills so that local businesses can expand their operations, respond to local conditions and meet changing customer expectations.”

Given the talent shortage, Pekelaar says employers are also increasingly willing to consider talent from non-traditional backgrounds for IT-related jobs, as they recognize that the job market is changing and skills can move from one discipline to another. are transferred.

Financial and technical professionals in particular are well placed to make the switch to ICT. People with financial services experience, such as accountants or auditors, who work extensively with IT systems, develop an understanding of these systems and bring valuable business know-how and experience to complement IT teams.

Also, knowledge diversity in teams can be very valuable, she said.

Among the most in-demand skills to close the ICT gap are:

Engineers – especially electronic and industrial engineers exposed to ICT systems in college are moving from more traditional engineering careers to fully ICT careers. Professionals who have developed strong analytical skills – such as financial analysts and lawyers – are well suited for ICT analyst roles. ‘Learn to code’ – even if you don’t intend to become a software coder, it is recommended to have a ​​learning a coding language like Python, as it gives people hands-on experience with basic IT technology and how it works. Recognized certification courses in the field of interest are a very good idea. Everything cloud related – this includes cloud engineers responsible for managing, planning, designing and monitoring cloud workloads. It also includes cloud developers, software engineers with a specialization in cloud computing, and cloud migration engineers with an understanding of cloud and infrastructure components. Data Engineers – this job looks after an organization’s data and requires technical skills to collect raw data, manage and convert. data in usable formats for analytical or operational purposes. DevOps engineers – particularly those responsible for implementing processes and tools to balance needs throughout the software development lifecycle, from coding to implementation. Java Developers – Java is a software language used by much larger organizations both in South Africa and abroad. These are software engineers with skills to develop IT applications with a focus on front-end applications or back-end services.

The talent is there – if you look hard enough

“Talent is universally distributed, but opportunities are not,” said Stephen van der Heijden, Vice President of Community at OfferZen.

“Basically, there are people who are undiscovered and don’t realize their potential. Our mission is to find these undiscovered developers and give them the opportunity of the world.

“Software developers are notoriously bad at packaging themselves and we find that with a little guidance and the right tooling, we can help them better represent themselves in the market and get the jobs they deserve.”

“According to our State of the Developer Nation report, a junior software developer changes jobs every few months because they want to learn a new language. Acquiring a new language sometimes requires a job change. So they will change jobs as often as every 12 months.”

A software company that onboards and trains juniors and then quickly loses them again can find this a costly affair.

“The challenge is to build mentoring programs and distract your seniors from actually building the software so they can mentor juniors. It is a very risky and intensive exercise,” says Van der Heijden.

According to Van der Heijden, the acute problem for junior developers is that companies do not like to invest in a junior software developer for the first time. “As a result, they use work experience as a measure of quality. It’s hard to get hired if you don’t have work experience, especially in software development.”

According to OfferZen’s State of the Software Developer Nation report for 2022, these are the most popular programming languages ​​in South Africa.

The end!


The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of Youth Opportunities Hub.

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