Enterprises across the continent are in desperate need of good software developers, says Petr Havlik, Managing Director of SA-based CyberPro Consulting.
Havlik says that the skills shortage is so dire that many companies are importing skills or offshoring development work. However, while this may have short-term appeal, it is not an idela solution, he says.
“When you’re importing skills or outsourcing work, you may find that the skills you’re using are not always at the level you hoped they would be. In addition, there are often cultural or language barriers when working with developers overseas.”
The ideal solution to the skills shortage is to grow a pool of world-class developers on the African continent. Homegrown skills have the advantage of understanding the local culture, language and operating environment, he says.
However, Havlik notes that in South Africa and across Africa, educational institutions need to make a greater effort to ensure that the training they deliver meets world standards. “We need to ensure that our education standards are world class, we need standardization and accreditation systems that ensure the skills emerging from tertiary institutions are world class,” he says.
Havlik believes that while enterprises should play a role in supporting local developer skills, individuals also need to take responsibility for ensuring that their skills are up to date, cutting edge and broad enough to meet the needs of African business. “In highly developed countries, you’ll find developers specializing in very niche areas. However, the market in Africa is not as large – here, developers need a broader range of skills, but they need to ensure that they are up to date. Last year’s knowledge is almost obsolete. A developer who is passionate about this work will take the initiative to keep his or her skills up to date.”
Havlik believes that in the short to medium term this demand for skills will continue to grow. “People need developers in Africa – if you’re a good .net or java developer, the world is your oyster,” he says.