Our crew participated in one of my favourite events of the year recently: our fourth annual Into the World of Work (ITWoW) event that we host with Merchants. It’s a calendar highlight because it’s a day when we work together with our partners and with one another to make a small dent in the ICT skills shortage that threatens South Africa’s economic progress.
Professor Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), is of the view that the ICT skills gap in South Africa is ‘a reality that continues to haunt the country’s ability to lift its performance across all sectors to the level that will sustainably address the unacceptable burdens of poverty and unemployment’.
The most recent findings from the JCSE skills survey emphasises that South Africa doesn’t have enough software engineers to build a digital economy, with the research team noting that ‘exposure to and familiarity with ICT for all learners is essential. Some laudable initiatives have appeared, such as the use of tablets in Gauteng schools, but they have yet to reach a sustained critical mass for all grades of learners.’
This is why we invest in ITWoW
We invited the NPOs that we support with connectivity (including Afrika Tikkun, Infinite Family, Columba Leadership and the Dimension Data Saturday School programme to identify interested students from Diepsloot, Alexandra, Cosmo City and Thokoza, and hosted them at our venues in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The day’s activities included interactive panel discussions and a speed-dating-styled activity where learners could engage with professionals from Internet Solutions and Merchants to understand the importance of ICT, and the value of ICT skills in the future world of work.
The learners also had the opportunity to log into MyCalling, a web-based programme to create a personal profile, compile a CV and complete a psychometric test. These profiles were downloaded from the platform and learners will be able to update throughout their careers.
By offering a combination of insights and practical tools, ITWoW better equips these young people to start their journey into the world of work, no matter what career they choose.
Importantly, I believe that ITWoW demonstrated how a career in technology - and joining a company like Internet Solutions - can change South Africa and the world for the better.