Business Insights

Steps to build a more inclusive, skilled workforce by Charmaine Koffman

The lack of technological know-how in the area has long been known, and current data highlights both the alarmingly high rate of youth unemployment in South Africa as well as the lack of technical expertise in the country.

The shocking proportion of young people (15 to 24 years old) without jobs is revealed by new Statista data, which reached 60.7% in the second quarter of 2023. Additionally, Statista said that from the beginning of 2016, women’s unemployment rates have been greater than men’s, with figures for the second quarter of 2023 showing nearly 36% of the workforce, compared to 30% for males.

From a technology perspective, three-quarters of the South African, Kenyan, and Nigerian organizations surveyed in a report by SAP Africa earlier this year titled “Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed” reported negative effects from a lack of technical skills, including struggling to meet client needs (46 percent), reduced capacity for innovation (53 percent), and losing customers to competitors (60 percent).

The survey states that recruiting competent new hires is the biggest skills difficulty facing African organizations; yet, in South Africa, keeping experienced workers on staff ranked highest. The report went on to say that the most in-demand talents were those related to digital transformation (48 percent), developer and industry skills (49 percent), cybersecurity, and data analytics (63 percent).

Development of skills and mentorship are crucial.

“The local technology sector is undoubtedly facing numerous challenges, but there are steps that the private sector can and should take to help reduce unemployment and the skills gap in technology,” says Charmaine Koffman, Head of Human Resources at Datacentrix, a top hybrid ICT systems integrator and managed services provider.

“Datacentrix has a strong commitment to skill development, which is seen in the many programs we provide, such as our 18-year-old graduate program. With a focus on cross-functional training, this project aims to produce multiskilled professionals with experience in many specialized areas of technology and a greater emphasis on business-focused talents.

“We place a lot of emphasis on mentorship as well as the development of soft skills like work ethics, which is a core value of Datacentrix, in our graduate and learnership programs. Since we want to be able to keep these bright young people on staff, we are proud of Datacentrix’s strong absorption rate of these learners and graduates.

Regardless of industry, mentoring is essential to the development of skills in Africa because it bridges the gap between schooling and real-world industrial demands and offers the direction, support, and knowledge transfer required to empower our workers. In order to further reinforce the foundation of talented workers across the continent, Datacentrix actively invites other local firms to join us in mentoring local students and graduates, the spokesperson continues.

The sector as a whole is currently experiencing a constant flow of resources, particularly at the entry level as opposed to mid- or senior-level management. In addition to the intense competition in the market, several companies are making above-market offers that they cannot continue in the long run.

When considering new opportunities, Koffman advises people to do their research before accepting an offer that seems too good to be true. It’s critical to keep in mind that surroundings that are reasonable and sustainable are frequently the source of actual professional advancement and job happiness. As a result, I would advise people to carefully consider employment offers before taking them, do extensive research on the organization, and ask for help when needed. Finding work isn’t always the only thing to do; sometimes, you also need to develop a rewarding career that fits with your values and long-term objectives.

Reducing the gender difference

Datacentrix and Wits University recently launched a bursary program, and future plans call for continuing this partnership. According to Koffman, this is one of the strategies the business is doing to encourage gender diversity in the ICT industry.

“To address the gender diversity challenge, local businesses must seriously implement targeted recruitment strategies.” With great optimism, Datacentrix plans to have a 50/50 gender split by the end of the next year. In order to increase diversity going forward, it is also imperative that more young women choose STEM fields like engineering and information technology.

According to Koffman, organizations must foster a basic interest in STEM occupations if they hope to encourage more women to enter the field and, in the long run, address the broader skills deficit in technology.

“In order to develop a trained workforce for the future, we must exert tremendous effort to solve the urgent problem of the lack of technology skills. This challenge should be addressed at the very beginning of education, even before grade 8. This will promote a more inclusive skills pool by ensuring that people from all backgrounds may access educational and job opportunities in the technology sector.

“Datacentrix is dedicated to participating in this revolutionary journey, and we invite other companies to join us in this crucial endeavor, creating a more promising and technologically advanced future for Africa,” the speaker says in her conclusion.

Concerning Datacentrix:

Leading ICT integration services and solutions are offered to South African organizations by Datacentrix, guaranteeing their success and viability in the digital era. The company takes a partner approach with its clients, providing them with insightful information and assisting in coordinating their ICT initiatives with their overall business plan.

Datacentrix is supported by the top technology partners in the world and provides a highly specialized skills component. The organization is acknowledged for its flexibility, comprehensive understanding of the field, shown aptitude, and outstanding overall results. Datacentrix has 135 percent procurement recognition and is a Level One (AAA) B-BBEE Contributor. Please visit for additional details.

By Charmaine Koffman, Head of Human Resources at Datacentrix, a leading hybrid ICT systems integrator and managed services provider.

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