4IR not changing South African ICT skills landscape yet- study

September 26, 2019 • Southern Africa

4IR not changing South African ICT skills landscape yet- study

Despite the hype, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not changed IT skills demand and supply in SA, but it’s only a matter of time before digital disruptors spark a revolution, say the authors of the 10th SA ICT Skills Survey. (Image source: Shutterstock.com)

The tenth edition of the South African ICT Skills Survey has found that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not yet had a significant impact on the South African ICT skills landscape.

The survey showed a distinct drop in the number of organisations saying ICT skills shortages were having a major impact on their business.

Less than half said ICT skills shortages were impacting their businesses in 2019, compared with virtually all saying they were feeling a major impact ten years ago. At the same time, 37 per cent of respondent employers now say they are recruiting ICT skills overseas – a sharp increase in 2018.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE at Wits University, said, “South Africans are being told that everything is changing and we need all new skills in the 4IR, but my belief is that the phrase 4IR is being used as a catch-all for a number of things – many of them encompassing the kind of evolutionary digital transformation we have seen over many decades. However, the 2019 ICT Skills Survey does indicate that the hype around 4IR is driving people to start looking at upskilling.”

Key findings of the 2019 ICT Skills Survey include:

  • Virtually all respondents said they felt a responsibility to help their employees reskill to meet the new era of digitalisation.
  • Virtually all ICT practitioners who responded felt they needed to reskill themselves in view of the changing digital environment.
  • Less than half of enterprises polled said ICT skills shortfalls were having a major effect on their business – a significant drop since 2008, when all businesses said an ICT skills shortage was having a major effect on their business.
  • The percentage of respondent employers recruiting overseas in 2019 has risen to 37 per cent.
    Online recruitment has overtaken traditional methods as the preferred platform for local recruitment.
  • Unlike their counterparts elsewhere in the world, South African ICT practitioners commonly multitask, performing several different roles.

In-demand skills

The survey found that the skills most needed now and over the next year include:

  • Information Security / Cybersecurity
  • DevOps
  • Big data design/analytics
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning
  • Blockchain
  • Test automation/performance testing and
  • Internet of Things

The survey was carried out by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA).

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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