TechXit skills capacity building programmes have been designed to fill 1 million digital skills related jobs in South Africa over the next 10 years or less. If successful, it is estimated that this will contribute to South Africa’s economic growth by more than ZAR 300 billion per annum.
Despite local news being flooded with the depressing statistics of a growing skills exodus, a select group of high-growth South African entrepreneurs are working together to develop a robust digital ecosystem that aims to not only create jobs, but develop some of the scarce skills required to fill them.
According to the 2021 JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey, there remains a chronic shortage of IT skills in South Africa. Scarcity in the cyber security, big data, analytics, DevOps, AI, app development and IoT specialisms are making it particularly difficult for local companies to deliver on global opportunities.
One of the high-growth entrepreneurs who is actively working to address the challenges of the local IT industry today is Pieter de Villiers, CEO of global CPaaS and Chat Commerce company, Clickatell.
Although the company has offices in four global cities, 80% of its headcount is based in South Africa. In addition, the company’s latest $91 million Series C round will be used, in part, to help the company significantly grow its software engineering skills, with 200 new positions earmarked, many of whom will join its African team.
As well as running his growing company, De Villiers is now Chairman of SiMODiSA. The association is an industry-led initiative to address and overcome barriers facing SMEs and start-ups in South Africa. Working with government, civil society and academia it aims to support entrepreneurship on the continent through the Startup Act, as well as creating future proof jobs via the TechXit digital skills initiative.
The TechXit initiative’s purpose is to unlock the full potential for South Africa’s youth by closing the widening gap between the supply and demand for IT and digital skills.
“TechXit has been careful to collaborate with a cross section of ICT specialists, trainers, educators, and employers. If we are to effect real change, the focus must be on creating meaningful, long-term employment in a demand-led environment. We believe we have every chance of success, especially if we can encourage more organisations to get involved, particularly at a leadership level,” de Villiers says.