South Africa’s digital skills gap has steadily changed from a valley to a canyon over the last few years, with many graduates lacking the basic and critical skills needed in the workplace, says Robin Fisher, emerging markets senior area vice president at Salesforce.
Fisher said that the country recorded a skills mismatch of over 50% in 2019, with the skills challenges likely further exacerbated by the pandemic. He noted that companies within the South African tech sector were finding it hardest to fill vacancies in positions.
He added that the following skills are currently most in-demand:
- Software developers;
- Computer network technicians;
- Developer programmers;
- Computer network and systems engineers.
Additionally, the most in-demand skills listed by employers are in:
- Big data and analytics;
- Artificial Intelligence.
“It’s not just the ICT sector that isn’t able to meet key digital skills demands. Organisations across industries are struggling to find the right digital skills needed to enable digital innovation, support recovery from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and drive future growth.
“Even everyday digital skills covering expertise in areas such as smartphone usage, website browsing, social media and productivity programs like Word, Excel, and Google Docs are in short supply, not just in South Africa but across the globe,” he said.
According to the 2022 Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index, workers surveyed around the world only scored 33 out of 100 points on the digital readiness index which included areas such as access to learning resources, skill level, and participation in training.
Only 40% of workers felt they were currently very prepared with workplace digital skills, with 34% who felt confident they would be in the next five years.
Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that they aren’t equipped with the resources needed to learn the digital skills to succeed in a digital workplace. The digital skills index presents a clear picture of how workers are feeling in terms of preparedness, skill level, access and their active participation in upskilling.
“It’s never been more important than now to actively seek out new skills. A fortunate side-effect of the last two years of disruption has been the shift towards a more online learning environment at a large scale,” said Fisher.
“Both the public and private sectors have a responsibility to unlock vital upskilling, reskilling, and digital literacy within both the current and future workforce, in order to prepare people for the future of work and develop the capabilities to effectively drive innovation and growth.”