Software development is one of the most sought-after skills in the ICT sector in South Africa. This has been revealed in the latest ICT Skills survey by the Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA).
The survey, the 11th since 2008 and the first since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, assessed what impact the pandemic and lockdown have had on working conditions and skills supply and demand in South Africa. The same report indicated that the programming languages most in demand were found to be .NET, C#, C++, Java and VB, with a decline in demand for people to maintain legacy systems, such as COBOL developers.
According to the report, the top occupations with hard to fill vacancies in the MICT sector (and the quantity needed) were:
1.Software developer (2 434)
2.Computer Network Technician (1 948)
3.Developer Programmer (823)
4.ICT Communications Assistant (755)
5.Computer Network & Systems Engineer (731)
6.ICT Security Specialist (713)
7.ICT Systems Analyst (676)
8.Web Technician (514)
9.Systems Administrator (405)
10.Programmer Analyst (397)
11.Management Consultant (Business Analyst) (359)
12.Advertising Specialist (224)
13.Telecommunications Network Engineer (164)
14.Database Designer & Administrator (114)
Report co-authors Adrian Schofield, production consultant at the IITPSA, and Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE, shared advice for the young on how they can prepare for the fourth industrial revolution. The report noted growing concern among young people about what to study to prepare for 4IR careers.
Dwolatzky said: “Learning ‘coding’ seems to have become something of an obsession in recent years. We have also seen a mushrooming of coding academies and “Coding Bootcamps”. I would question whether the mass acquisition of skills in coding and robotics should be our priority in preparing South Africa for 4IR. Coding is hard to master and frustrating if you only learn it superficially.”
Dwolatzkys advice for future-proof qualifications was to first strive to complete a university degree – any university degree. “Over the three years of an undergraduate programme, you will learn to learn, communicate and sell. With a degree under your belt, learn the foundational skills required in the 4IR-related job you may wish to be doing.
“These foundational skills can be acquired via a good set of online courses or other alternative learning pathways. But remember that technical skills such as software development require many hours of practice,” he said.