0.4% of SA learn­ers study­ing IT at any point in time, and 1.4% of our schools are teach­ing IT.

Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT - March Ash­ton

I don’t be­lieve for a mo­ment that do­ing the sub­ject in high school is go­ing to pre­pare you for a ca­reer in IT, but if you’re part of that 0.4% who do de­cide to take the sub­ject, you give your­self an enor­mous ad­van­tage over 99% of your peers.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search from Ad­corp: “The skills short­age among tech­ni­cians is 432 100, among man­agers 216 200 and among pro­fes­sion­als 178 400. In sharp con­trast, a to­tal of 967 600 ele­men­tary work­ers are in ex­cess of the na­tion’s needs, as are 247 400 do­mes­tic work­ers.”

Ob­vi­ously the def­i­ni­tion of a ‘tech­ni­cian’ is very broad and in­cludes some kind of ar­ti­sanal train­ing post ma­tric, but it does high­light where the skills gaps are in SA.

Around the world, govern­ments aside, the big­gest em­ploy­ers are now tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. Govern­ments, there­fore, need to adapt to high-growth and fast chang­ing tech­nol­ogy en­vi­ron­ments be­cause ba­sic tech skills are go­ing to be a must-have go­ing for­ward. In­stead we choose the route of least re­sis­tance, which is to sim­ply roll over and com­ply when teach­ers need some­thing made eas­ier. We move the goal­posts with­out con­sid­er­ing whether it will make us more or less com­pet­i­tive.

Mo Ibrahim, chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foun­da­tion, re­cently came un­der fire for again opt­ing not to present an African lead­er­ship award through his foun­da­tion. He should be praised for this stance and he is right when he says: “Nei­ther Afro-pes­simism nor Afro-op­ti­mism do jus­tice to mod­ern Africa. This is now the age of Afro-re­al­ism – an hon­est out­look on our con­ti­nent. It’s about a cel­e­bra­tion of its achieve­ments but also a prag­matic ac­knowl­edge­ment of the chal­lenges that lie ahead.”

We are not be­ing prag­matic by not in­vest­ing in IT skills for the fu­ture.

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