A major shortage of computer skills has hit South African banks hard

A major shortage in computer skills has left South African banks to fight over an already small talent pool.

Speaking to Reuters, representatives from Absa, Standard Bank, Nedbank and FirstRand said that they were struggling to access the skills they need to rapidly digitise, and deal with new mobile banking players.

The banks have taken a number of measures to address the shortage – including changing their hiring strategies and developing training programs – but said that it still took months to hire and they were paying ever-rising salaries to win talent.

Standard Bank Group chief information officer, Alpheus Mangale, said that his firm was particularly struggling in trying to fill positions that did not exist just a few years ago – such as cloud engineers.

Banks can expect to pay a 20-30% premium when they do find such skills, he said.

Increased competition

South Africa’s biggest lenders are facing an onslaught of entrants for the first time in 12 years.

TymeBank has seen impressive support since launching in February 2019, and is on track to hit one million customers by the end of the year.

After onboarding around 40,000 clients during its ‘soft launch’ phase between November 2018 and February 2019, the bank then moved to a high growth phase where it was adding 4,000 new clients a day.

Chief executive officer, Sandile Shabalala said the group is averaging 100,000 new customers each month.

South Africans are also eagerly awaiting new offerings from Discovery and Bank Zero which promise to snap up clients from the rest of the ‘big four’.

Discovery ‘soft’ launched its bank in March and promises to be a more direct competitor to the other major banks when it launches later this year.

Bank Zero will operate as a mutual savings bank, promises to be entirely digital, and will handle all of its services and communications via an app.

Read: These are the best banks according to young South Africans

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A major shortage of computer skills has hit South African banks hard