By Thapelo Rapetswa, Government and Service Provider business Director at Westcon Southern Africa
Speaking at the EY Strategic Growth Forum in Johannesburg on Monday 2 November 2015, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the future of our continent depends not on the “rise of commodity prices but on the expansion and development of its human capital.” And I couldn’t agree more.
Ramaphosa emphasised that the future of Africa rests on education of our youth, and while government has allocated R640 billion to basic education, the challenge of financial support in higher education is still very real. Locally, we have seen this challenge come to a head with the student protests at tertiary education institutions, across the country. The “fees must fall” protests resulted in President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that there would be a zero percent increase in tuition fees for 2016.
This announcement was a massive triumph for the students of the country, but it has also brought to light the fact that government may not be able to support tertiary education in the same way that is does basic education. In the IT sector specifically, we are already suffering a massive lack of the necessary IT skills in our businesses. The scary thing, is that the talented individual we require might not be able to afford a tertiary education that would help them develop the skills they need to get the job.
I believe that the only way that companies will get the skills they need, is if they put support behind the individuals who possess those skills, through sponsorship of education and job placement. Human capital is the most valuable asset to any company that wants to continue moving forward, so why not invest in that capital?
According to an article in Business Report, the proof that Africa’s future lies in its human capital was “evident in how innovations in the field of technology that were emanating from the continent and which saw the continent’s young, bright minds at the forefront of global, cutting-edge change, were making impact.”
South African IT businesses need to bet on those “young, bright minds” to push the industry forward, and create a pool of skilled IT individual’s that are not only willing to work hard to get the job done, but have a new outlook on how the job should be done. Support and foster the hardworking learner with a thirst for experience and growth, and your business, and our continent, will reap the rewards.