South Africa’s banking sector is desperate for these skills

 ·22 Jul 2022

The government has identified a big gap in cybersecurity skills and is currently working with other entities within departments to try and plug it.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies said that a major skills shortage in cybersecurity has been identified by key entities within the banking space – including the Banking Sector Education and Training Authority (BankSETA) and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC).

To address this, both entities have partnered to develop a National Cybersecurity Skills Framework to guide the training of cybersecurity professionals in the country.

In its 2022/23 Sector Skills Plan, BankSETA said that the country needs to put a greater focus on the new regulatory framework for prudential and conduct authorities, with cybersecurity a risk that all banks must address by ensuring they have the appropriate skills to manage it.

“Cybercrime has grown exponentially as a risk to banks, and there is an increased demand for cybersecurity skills,” it said.

“BankSETA has partnered with SABRIC to develop cybersecurity occupational qualifications in the sector. The information shared by SABRIC helps shape the skills landscape in the cybersecurity space. It also has a significant role to play in the achievement of all the National Skills Development Programme outcomes,” it said.

The group said that particular focus needs to be placed on developing skills for:

  • Chief cybersecurity officers;
  • Compliance officers;
  • Skills programmes for Basel IV;
  • A range of occupations in cybersecurity.

As part of the plan, the group said that new technology and digital literacy programmes are being developed and piloted in the country and that it is making interventions where it can to ensure that the necessary skills are in place.

The programmes will specifically look at registering and upskilling unemployed youth, while also funding bursaries and other programmes for employers in the sector to address the skills shortage. The group’s plans include:

  • A programme on digital literacy – introduced in 2021 – is being piloted and will be rolled out;
  • It will fund demand-driven Technology, Digitalisation, Cybersecurity and Analytics skills development initiatives that employers are not able to access through existing BANKSETA projects. This can be done through (WIL, Learnerships, TVETs, UoTs and PIVOTAL programmes);
  • Register unemployed learners on a range of appropriate learnership programmes;
  • Register employed and unemployed beneficiaries in a range of PIVOTAL programmes to meet the banking sector demand;
  • Register unemployed youth on work readiness programmes, focusing on scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Register unemployed learners on a programme to improve pass results for grades 10, 11 and 12;
  • Assist TVET College learners to access work-integrated learning opportunities through collaborations with TVETs;
  • Assist University of Technology (UoT) learners to access work-integrated learning opportunities through collaborations with UoTs;
  • Fund bursaries to university, and university of technology learners in scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Provide bursary funding support to NSFAS;
  • Provide funding to employers in order to upskill or re-skill workers whose positions have/will become redundant as a result of digitalisation;
  • Encourage and support small enterprises through funding scarce occupations and skills gaps;
  • Provide bursaries to SME businesses so that they develop the necessary business skills to sustain their business;
  • Encourage and support co-operatives by funding training in co-operative institutions and co-operative members;
  • Support skills development for South African banking leaders expanding into Africa;
  • Register learners for bursaries for PhD and post-doctoral studies and support the development of supervisors of post-graduate studies which outlines the most difficult to fill vacancies in the banking sector.

Hard to fill vacancies

As part of its skills assessment for 2022/23, BankSETA identified the vacancies within the banking sector that are currently most difficult to fill (HTFVs). These include:

“Information technology-related vacancies comprise a significant number of HTFVs,” BankSETA said. “This may be attributed to the increased demand for digitalisation as a response to the demands of remote work. The very nature of IT is project orientated, the demand is entirely dependent on the availability of projects.

“The lack of relevant experience and education of candidates applying for vacancies remain the top two reasons for employers being unable to fill vacancies. The two top reasons account for 43% of the reasons given.”

While BankSETA acknowledged that a lack of available jobs in South Africa is a huge problem, it said that it’s not the only problem when it comes to unemployment.

“A key underlying issue is also the inadequately educated and experienced workforce which is the main challenge of post-school education and training,” it said, adding that this also persists within the banking sector.

The significant decline in the pass rate of mathematics and physical sciences over the past few years underlined this issue, with the group adding that there was cause for deep concern.

“This significant decline in the pass rate indicates that fewer learners are able to pursue studies relating to Data Science, Statistics, and other high-level technology skills. If the schooling system is to assist the economy to prepare for skills for the 4IR and 5IR, there is a cause for deep concern,” it said.

Read: BMW is on a big hiring drive in South Africa – and it’s looking for these skills

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