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Pandemic impact on ICT skills in the spotlight in 2021 ICT Skills Survey

- Wits University

The JCSE-IITPSA Skills Survey assesses skills demand and supply from both a corporate and practitioner perspective.

Digital, IT, computers

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on ICT skills is expected to be revealed by the 2021 ICT Skills Survey carried out by Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), which has now gone live for the first time since 2019.

The survey, an important guide to the state of ICT skills in South Africa, did not take place in 2020 due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. It is expected that this year’s survey will highlight the changes that have been wrought on ICT skills demand and supply over the past 18 months.

Adrian Schofield, production consultant at the IITPSA and co-author of the JCSE-IITPSA ICT Skills Survey report, says: “The clear message coming out of the past 18 months is that the world of work for everybody has changed. For the ICT skills environment this means two things – the way in which ICTs are used across the board in any working environment has changed, impacting the need for support for people working from home. The other is the ongoing need for developing systems that are appropriate in the Covid-19 world and the ability to manage those systems in a more distributed environment than many organisations – SMBs in particular – are accustomed to.”

Schofield says: “While we cannot predict the outcomes, the 2021 ICT Skills Survey might find the demand for skills remains constant, possibly increasing in some areas; but the way in which people acquire those skills may be changing from the traditional meeting in a fixed environment to learning things on a more remote basis. The travel restrictions do have an impact on the mobility of skills across borders, and we hope to get some indication of how that is affecting our market.”

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE and co-author of the report, says: “What the Covid-19 pandemic has done has given huge impetus to digital transformation. The acceleration has been huge, so we might be seeing people in different sectors or job descriptions now seeing themselves as digital professionals. An interesting thing that has happened over the last year is that almost all learning has moved from being face-to-face, to virtual. In the past we made a distinction between in-person learning and virtual learning, and it will be interesting to see how this impacts the findings on how companies source and grow skills now.”

The JCSE-IITPSA Skills Survey assesses skills demand and supply from both a corporate and practitioner perspective. Its objective is to identify the most pressing skills needs from the corporate perspective, balanced with the view of current skills capacity of the practitioners and their intentions for future skills development. The questionnaire is in a consistent format to track trends and is published as an on-line survey.

In the corporate survey, the research looks at digital skills shortages and capabilities across key technologies in 20 industry sectors; as well as the ICT skills organisations expect to need in the next 12 months and how organisations plan to meet these needs. In this year’s survey, organisations will also be asked how the Covid-19 pandemic affected skills availability, and what impact the pandemic has had on workforces. The ICT practitioner survey will assess the qualifications practitioners have, their approach to further skills development, and how the pandemic has affected their work.

The two questionnaires are now live and can be accessed here where respondents can register and then login to select either or both of the surveys.