Partnership expected to grow IT talent

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Speaking at the CAPACITi 1000 Graduation Ceremony held on March 20th, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, said that as a country, we desperately need to start positioning our skills development so that graduates? qualifications match the skills that are, and will be needed as we move into the future.

Minister Winde said that universities were "churning out qualifications such as sports management, exacerbating the unemployment problem. Six out of ten university graduates are currently unemployed, and this fact needs to be addressed. This programme is doing so admirably'.

He said that the programme serves as an excellent example of how government and private sector can work together to produce fantastic results.

The Cape IT initiative (CITi), Old Mutual, Sanlam and the Insurance Sector Education and Training Authority (INSETA), are working with a variety of stakeholders to provide aspiring business analysts with usable skills. The industry-demand, multi-stakeholder programme aims to "add up, up-skill or re-skill 1000 people with IT skills that are in critical short supply within the next five years, with a key focus on producing more graduate level IT talent', says Sandra Dunn, CEO of INSETA.

The CAPACITi 1000 Training, Internship and Intern Support Programme will provide participants with a post-graduate diploma part-time (NQF level 8) from the University of Cape Town, an internship at a host company, and mentor and training support. The 2011 pilot programme achieved a 95% pass rate, and at the end of the programme 95% of learners were employed.

Business analysis has been identified as a target development area by the ICT sector and the South African government, and the demand for this qualification has been further evidenced by national initiatives, as well as international demands and trends.

The role of business analysts is increasingly regarded as a critical one, as they are required to liaise between technical resources and business stakeholders, translating business rules and requirements into practically viable IT systems and potentially increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness on projects.

INSETA provided funding for the training of the students for the pilot 2011 programme and will do so for 2012.

Dunn, said that "In order to compete with the rapidly expanding integration of IT technologies into the workplace in any sector, we as a country need to realise the importance of, and then prepare our workforce for the growing challenges that the local and international marketplace demands.'

The initiative is in line with INSETA?s Sector Skills Plan, which in turn is aligned to the National Growth Path. "Business analysis is a vital instrument within the business environment to ensure that information technology is able to provide effective solutions for business enterprises. The development of business analysts through a suite of qualifications will have a positive impact on the broader economy of South Africa, and will also help bring South Africa in line with international trends and satisfy industry requirements,' said Dunn.

Hubert January, Senior HR Manager at Old Mutual, said that: "Forward thinking companies will ensure that they employ business analysts to increase emphasis on business value and impact.' He paid tribute to the current intake of graduates on CAPACITi for the way in which they had applied themselves on this innovative new programme.

He said that the programme was an example of true transformation in action - it had succeeded not only in transforming the lives of those who graduated, but also the communities from which they came.

Dunn said that the programme is intended to empower learners to acquire knowledge, skills, attitudes and values required to operate confidently as individuals in the South African community, and to respond to the challenges of the economic environment and changing world of work.

Businesses should not underestimate the value that business analysts offer, said Hubert. "Forging a career in business analysis will add value by ensuring the business requirements align to the company strategies, are understood by all stakeholders, are documented and are agreed upon, and have tangible metrics to demonstrate this value.'

Training in the CAPACIti 1000 is designed to give a basic grounding of Business Analysis and Systems Analysis for individuals who have had limited or no exposure to Information Systems or IT. Emphasis is placed on supporting young talent as they leave university, hence the intern support aspect of the programme.

After the training is complete, they may choose to study further in Business Analysis or progress to other IT disciplines such as programming, Quality Assurance or Testing.

The CAPACITi 1000 programme forms part of the wider plan created by the Cape IT initiative, namely the creation of an additional 5 000 jobs in the Western Cape in the next five years.

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