by Joanne Carew

How to find the right IT talent in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa

Sep 26, 2021
HiringIT Skills

A new eBook from global professional recruiting agency Michael Page highlights the 10 key competencies that businesses need to s쳮d, as well as how to find the right hire for every IT role.

diversity south africa confident smiling south african woman in office at desk by peopleimages gett
Credit: PeopleImages / Getty Images

Critical technology skills are essential to the ongoing operational success of businesses across the globe — South Africa, and more broadly, sub-Saharan Africa, are no exception. In a recent article, we highlighted the findings of Xpatweb’s Critical Skills list for 2021, which revealed that some businesses in the region are so desperate for technology skills that they are willing to change job specifications to find the right people to fill vacancies and that they’re also looking further afield to find the skills they need.

A recent eBook from Michael Page, a global professional recruiting agency, describes  10 key competencies that businesses need in order to keep up with the competition, and also offers advice on how to attract the best IT talent and how to successfully assess the competency of a candidate during the recruitment process. Here below is the advice Michael Page offers, and the 10 tops skills required for business success.

Top tips for recruitment success

It’s every company’s ambition to hire the right person for the job and to find a good fit for the organisation. Unfortunately, successfully identifying this individual in a 30 minute interview can prove challenging. As such, Michael Page offer three strategies that HR professionals and recruiters can follow to assess if a candidate has the key skills needed to add value in the world of IT.

Consider pre-interview assessments

You can verify an IT specialist’s skills long before you invite them to come in for an job interview by including a preliminary online aptitude test in the job application requirements. Make sure that the test includes tasks created with a certain level of difficulty in mind so that it’s possible to compare what it says on a candidate’s CV with their actual skills.

Prioritise culture and team fit

Even if a candidate meets your requirements as far as professional qualifications are concerned, you’ll still need to determine if he or she is a good fit for your team. Should a potential hire need to participate in a daily stand-up meeting, it’s important that they are competent communicators. Culture/team fit is especially important when filling managerial positions, as these individuals are required to work with others to solve problems and will need to have good organisational skills so that they can keep tabs on what everyone is doing.

Be mindful about the different soft skills

Soft skills differ from role to role. For middle managers and team leaders, one of the most sought-after qualities is the ability to aptly handle change management. These IT professionals are tasked with choosing the right pace and right timing for new tech implementations. A bit further up the management hierarchy, CIOs must be comfortable making quick decisions and managing risks. In understanding what specific aptitudes are valuable at different job levels, you’ll be less likely to hire or disqualify the wrong candidates.

What skills should businesses be looking for? Here are the top 10:

Cross-functional skills

In recent years there has been a trend towards the blending of many different IT roles into one. For example DevOps combines software development, operations and quality assurance. Hires with these skills are proving a must for modern IT firms.

Information security skills

The rise of remote work and an increase in the number of companies using cloud-based technologies has caused an information security and cyber-security boon. As such, there is high demand for talent in this area; particularly for chief information security officers and cyber security engineers.

Data privacy skills

In line with the above, one of the most common security breaches happens when businesses retain data for longer than necessary. Hence, there is a need for IT talent to have a keen understanding of privacy so that they can help organisations comply with new data protection legislation, like POPIA, which recently came into force in South Africa.

SAP skills

In South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, SAP skills are required by organisations that are looking to streamline their operations by upgrading their existing ERP systems or to make the transition to a newer version of SAP.

JAVA skills

Java has been around already for a long time, but it remains an important programming

language. Today, developers in Africa are upskilling in Java via traditional certification programmes, learning platforms like Udemy and forums like GitHub.

Python skills

Companies in Africa that are looking to deploy emerging technologies are increasingly hiring Python developers. As one of the fastest growing programming languages, many developers in South Africa are working with Python, making it a critical IT competency.

Cloud skills

The demand for qualified professionals with cloud computing expertise will only continue to increase as businesses move more and more to the cloud. Consequently, these brands require cloud migration specialists and cloud security experts, for example, to help them successfully make the migration.

Data analysis skills

Big data is spreading into all industries, helping to shape and inform decision making, as such businesses are increasingly seeking data scientists and analysts to help them make better sense of the information they have at their disposal.

Artificial Intelligence skills

Demand for AI-related skills is industry dependent. In the manufacturing and the service industries, for example, the use of AI has skyrocketed, but is yet to gain traction in others. Looking more generally, machine learning, data science and data mining are the most sought-after AI-related skills.

Combined project management skills

We spoke earlier about the combination of different IT roles — the ideal IT project manager is happy to combine different strategies and approaches to achieve the desired outcome. This is why so many IT project manager job specifications call for an “agile mindset”.