Technology skills demand in SA

What to study now to get ahead in IT

Young person gaining the necessary skills to secure and sustain employment in the digital age.

In an era of technology rapidly transforming industries worldwide, the demand for digital skills has never been higher. Employers across South Africa and beyond are increasingly seeking individuals equipped with the latest in-demand digital skills to drive innovation and maintain competitive advantages. The pressing need for a digitally skilled workforce is reshaping the job market, highlighting the critical importance of equipping young people with the necessary skills to secure and sustain employment in the digital age.

There is more scope than ever for young people seeking employment in technology. Martin Pienaar, Chief Operating Officer of Mindworx Academy, provides detailed insight into the digital skills currently in demand to help young people plot their next career move.

Cybersecurity and data privacy – High rates of cybercrime require people skilled in network security, ethical hacking and cybersecurity frameworks. Pienaar says, “Most sectors need skills in cybersecurity, and none more so than financial services, government and public services, healthcare and retail.”

AI and data analytics – According to Pienaar, “Mindworx clients in government and public services are using AI technologies that enable efficiency and competitive advantage. They also need skills in big data analytics and data science. The agriculture sector uses AI for predictive analytics and retail uses it for consumer behaviour analysis and personalised shopping experiences.”

Cloud computing/security and architecture – “Today’s most crucial cloud service platforms are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform,” says Pienaar. “These are essential in the telecoms sector with its 5G networks, broadband services, increased data flow and connectivity solutions.”

Fintech and blockchain – Skills in blockchain technology, cryptocurrency and financial software development are needed as South Africa’s fintech sector responds to widespread mobile usage and innovative digital payment solutions.

Internet of Things (IoT) – IoT device management, sensor data analysis and network security are hot skills in many sectors, most notably the energy sector for smart grid management and agritech where IoT can boost productivity and sustainability. These skills are also needed in telecoms, insurance and automating manufacturing.

Software development – Mindworx sees a continuous need across all sectors for software developers in Python, Java, and JavaScript. “Mobile app development skills are needed in the telecoms sector and across the board there is an increasing demand for skills in no code/low code development environments like Ab Initio,” says Pienaar.

Edtech – COVID amplified the need for skills in developing educational software, managing virtual classrooms and digital content creation.

Digital literacy and IT support – Pienaar says that in the rush to gain technical skills, it’s important not to forget what needs to happen behind the scenes to make the most of those skills. “There’s always a need for network administration and training to improve digital literacy as more and more organisations go digital.”

Mindworx sees the biggest trend as the explosion in the requirement for data skills. According to Pienaar, “As key functions across all organisations are digitalised, enormous amounts of data are created. Companies are realising the competitive advantage in using this data wisely, giving rise to immense growth in the demand for data specialists.”

Data-centric roles include:

Data analytics and business intelligence – Organisations need data analysts who can interpret complex data sets to understand performance, predict trends and make informed decisions. Statistical analysis, data visualisation and tools like Excel, Tableau, and Power BI are highly sought after.

Data science – Data scientists are in demand for their ability to build complex analytical models and use predictive analytics to give businesses a competitive edge. Essentials are programming languages like Python and R, and machine learning frameworks.

Machine learning, AI and advanced analytics – With AI and machine learning shaping many industries, there’s a growing need for professionals who can develop algorithms that allow computers to learn from, and act on, data. Necessary skills include tools like TensorFlow and PyTorch, and predictive analytics, neural networks and natural language processing (NLP).

Big data technologies – Specialists in big data technologies like Hadoop, Spark and NoSQL databases are needed to manage and analyse vast amounts of data.

Data engineering – Crucial to any data analytics operation are data engineers who can design, build and maintain the architecture used to handle data warehouses and data lakes. They need to be proficient in SQL, Python and cloud platforms like AWS or Azure.

Database management – Database administrators and developers are needed to make data accessible, usable and secure using their skills in database programming, design and optimisation with platforms like MySQL, PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server. 

Quantitative analysis – Financial services need quantitative analysts who can model risk, optimise portfolios and price derivatives and have skills in quantitative finance, statistics, and software like MATLAB and R.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the importance of acquiring in-demand digital skills cannot be overstated. By prioritising skill development in in-demand areas, young people can unlock a wealth of local and international opportunities. Empowering the youth with these essential skills not only addresses the growing demand from employers but also paves the way for a more innovative, resilient, and globally competitive workforce. The time to act is now, ensuring that our young people are prepared to thrive in the digital economy and contribute to the future growth and prosperity of South Africa.

This article was published in Bizcommunity and IT-Online

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