CAPE TOWN – It has been graduation season in South Africa as academic institutions celebrate with fanfare the success of their students.
Sadly, this excitement will soon be met by the realisation that graduating from varsity is not enough to get a job.
For some graduates in medicine or law it may be easier to secure employment as part of the training prepares them for field work and they gain hands-on experience. The medical sector has hospitals and clinics which gives students experience and the legal sector has firms that take on graduates for their articles. This is not the case in technology, and many other sectors.
There are, however, models that are beginning to emerge in the technology sector that enable graduates to earn the necessary experience to be employable graduates.
One such programme is conducted by SAP and the City of Cape Town, which recently hosted a graduation ceremony for those who had acquired a qualification to become a SAP consultant.
About 21 participants took part in the most recent SAP Skills for Africa programme.
The initiative invests in the future workforce and delivers a comprehensive programme that combines technical and soft skill elements. The trainees become certified SAP consultants, with a guaranteed temporary job placement within the SAP ecosystem for initial work experience.
The City of Cape Town is part of the SAP ecosystem in the sense that it uses SAP in its operations and is a perfect platform for training young people in the process of working with SAP systems.
The City partnered with the SAP Training and Development Institute to provide young graduates with an opportunity to complete the Skills for Africa Programme.
This programme equips graduates with the necessary digital and ICT skills to give them a competitive edge in the job market.
The City and SAP have managed to help young people secure jobs in the market. Sharon Cottle, a councillor, who spoke to the graduates, had this to say about the value of their qualification.
“The SAP certification will definitely open doors to new opportunities as these graduates are now equipped with critical and sought-after skills which will set them apart in today’s competitive job market.”
The intervention by SAP and the City has important lessons for institutions as to how they can use their technology to empower young people.
The first lesson is about making graduates employable.
The second lesson is that institutions should use their own technology in partnership with technology providers to develop young talent and - more importantly - to create opportunities for graduates.
Imagine if organisations that use technology systems can partner with technology providers to equip young people by creating training opportunities within their own companies.
Companies and organisations should make mandatory training programmes with technology companies to train graduates in their systems to avoid unemployable tech graduates.
The technology sector needs a bridge between academia and industry to prepare tech graduates for the world of work.
Wesley Diphoko is the Editor-In-Chief of The Infonomist. He founded Kaya Labs, a platform that equips young people from previously disadvantaged communities with Tech skills. He also serves as the Chairman of the IEEE Open Data Initiative. Follow him on Twitter via: @WesleyDiphoko