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