The message from leading global ICT managed services provider, Integr8, is that South Africa’s technology sector must renew efforts to address the need for sought-after ICT skill sets.

Although the company is encouraged by reports of a drop in unemployment figures (which, according to recent information from Stats SA, now stands at 24,9%) and calls from various groups to acknowledge education as an essential service, there is still a substantial amount that has to be done to improve IT skills flow in the country.

In particular, corporate South Africa should take advantage of the opportunity to establish, sustain and rollout training programs and other learning initiatives to assist those wanting to enter the IT industry says executive management at Integr8.

The company highlights the ongoing problem of Africa having to address the ongoing digital divide and the quality of education in order to seriously tackle skills development within the ICT sector.

“Recent statistics indicate that the percentage of unemployed individuals in Gauteng now stands at 23,7%, slightly below the national average.  ICT skills, and technical skills in particular, are fundamental to growth within developing economies. One only has to consider the researched fact that ICT investment has direct impact on GDP growth within developing economies, to understand the significance of this challenge” explains Tami Sussman, Chief Marketing Officer, Integr8.

The situation is not only about sourcing sufficient skills and integrating them into a business, the challenge faced by many companies is how these skills should be best utilised to improve the bottom line.

“This is where HR management and knowledge of systems comes into play in a major way,” adds Sussman. “The application of technical skills should always be in line with the requirements of the business and should, in so far as possible, extend the service and core offering of the business in order to add measurable value to clients.”

It is important that HR receives the buy-in and full co-operation and support of management in the execution of strategy.

“It is really about people development. In the economy today people are under extreme pressure to perform, to add value and to retain their positions within ever-competitive business environments. Companies can do a lot to support and reassure workers, and thereby instil a culture of growth, teamwork and productivity,” says Sussman.

Leadership at Integr8 highlight internships, learnership programmes and eLearning as examples of what companies can- and should do to empower employees, attract and retain the highest calibre of skilled employees.