The future of companies, and therefore the economy in general, is today directly related to its ability to successfully transform digitally. Along with exploding technology innovations and the pressure of a global pandemic this transformation was accelerated in South Africa during 2020/2021, and our skills need to evolve along with this shift.
“Digital innovations in Artificial Intelligence, robotics, automation and others are rewriting the world of work, and it is essential that companies and employees get the digital and soft skills they need to adapt,” says Prudence Mabitsela, 51% shareholder and Managing Director of Dynamic DNA, a leading training and skills development company empowering Africa’s ICT generation.
Companies of all sizes and from nearly every industry need skilled people to survive and grow; not only do they require scarce ICT skills, but the way employees do their work is increasingly digital as new tools are introduced in the workplace. And while this rapid change makes lives and businesses better it also widens the skills gap as countless people are left behind.
UNESCO defines digital skills as having “a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information. They enable people to create and share digital content, communicate and collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfilment in life, learning, work, and social activities at large”.
Prudence has a passion for empowering young people with the right skills for the future and is also an inspiration for black women seeking a career in the ICT sector, she shares the steps companies can take to upskill and reskill to achieve digital transformation.
Evaluate your company’s technology demands and plan for talent you will need today and tomorrow. Skills planning is important to identify skills that are lacking in your workforce which means examining your current and future skills requirements, identifying talent, and planning the interventions your company needs to develop or acquire these skills.
Take advantage of tax credits and levy reimbursements.
While the process and administrative burden of the skills development process is onerous, the financial returns are worth it. In Dynamic DNA’s experience in the ICT skills sector, they have been able to reduce learnership and skills development costs by up to 63%.
By engaging with a specialist in skills development, training and learnerships who understand the B-BBEE codes of good practice and provide a complete administrative management of the skills development process, your company can benefit financially, as well as transform.
Invest in upskilling and reskilling your employees
Instead of seeking scarce skills from the industry, you can also identify individuals within your company to send for training. There are a variety of specialist short skills and soft skills courses available that will further your company’s transition into the digital economy and meet your long-term strategic goals. By investing in upskilling and reskilling you can develop the potential of existing employees instead of spending on searching in an already competitive job market. By enabling those employees to advance out of lower skilled positions, you also provide an opportunity for them to further their career while closing the skills gap in the country.
There are a variety of ways for employers to find engaging ways of upskilling existing employees such as bespoke training courses at their offices, learnership programmes for reskilling, online training, or intensive bootcamps.
Adjust hiring practices
Many companies expect employees to have a four-year degree and specific experience, this is not possible in the current skills crisis, and it isn’t inclusive as many young people do not have the financial opportunity to attend university. By widening the net to include inexperienced individuals, especially digitally savvy Generation Z candidates; recruiting for potential; and participating in learnerships, employers remove the barrier to entry for candidates who have the right cognitive abilities, behaviours, and values, who can in the long-term become a valuable employee.
In South Africa as unemployment rates soar, the rate at which people are being trained and hired to fill the digital skills gap is far too slow. With the added pressure to meet B-BBEE requirements, companies need to invest time and energy in training, upskilling and reskilling programmes, as well as adapt their hiring practices to be more inclusive.