South Africa faces a chronic shortage of skills in the IT (Information Technology) sector, with the South African Government’s 2023 Critical Skills List highlighting the need for IT skills including systems analysts, data scientists, software developers and more.
Recognising the need to introduce more skilled workers into the sector, Business Procurement Outsourcing (BPO) industry leader CCI South Africa has launched its own IT Academy to develop homegrown talent for the BPO industry. The CCI IT Academy offers contact centre agents who are interested in pursuing a career in IT, but who have previously lacked the opportunities or academic backgrounds for this career, to enter the industry via in-house accredited training opportunities.
CCI’s impact sourcing model offers highly driven young people from previously disadvantaged communities the opportunity to enter sustainable employment in CCI’s contact centres after completing a two-week work readiness programme facilitated by CCI South Africa’s impact sourcing partner, CareerBox Africa. Many of these young people aspire to careers in the IT industry, but for a variety of reasons, have not had the opportunity to study further after completing their high school education.
“CCI’s strength lies in our ability to make a real difference in people’s lives, enabling them to develop their own generational legacies. As part of our commitment to making a socioeconomic impact within our African base, the IT Academy provides an avenue for growth for agents and employees across CCI into the IT department, thereby growing the skills base in the BPO industry,” says Peter Andrew, CEO of CCI South Africa.
The CCI IT Academy provides an entry point into the IT department for employees in the contact centre who have no previous experience or training in IT. The Academy is also designed to enable existing members of the IT department to advance within their chosen career path, with options to progress from Service Desk roles to Senior Engineering positions through the Step-Up programme for career advancement. The training combines in-person training modules with self-paced online learning hosted on platforms such as Moodle, an open-source learning system, to enable individuals to independently learn at their preferred speed, and undertake assessments at their own pace.
The first Academy intake of eight students who have no previous IT training first experienced a two-week full-day immersion in IT fundamentals and Service Desk before progressing to a blend of in-person training, on-the-job experience at the Service Desk, and self-paced online learning. During the six-month training period, these students will complete A+ and N+ courses and soft skills training aimed at equipping them with the effective communication, writing, time management and active questioning skills needed to succeed in the workplace. The study process is incremental – each module is completed by passing an assessment, after which students continue with the next module. They are also afforded more than one chance to pass the assessment and have access to supplemental learning aids such as video instructions, which the IT team at CCI has compiled to guide the learning programme.
“The first intake of students will become IT Service Desk Agents working at our Service Desk. While they are completing this six-month programme, they are assigned to the Service Desk and continue to earn a full salary while completing their A+ and N+ certification, along with on-the-job training performing the full duties of a Service Desk agent. Once the students have qualified as Service Desk agent, they can become technicians which would be the next career step, they will have a further opportunity to return to the Academy to complete their S+, MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) and various other IT certifications. Our aim with the Academy is to have a powerful positive impact in these employees’ lives, while successfully addressing the skills shortage in the IT sector,” says Dee Phillips, IT Training Academy Lead at CCI South Africa.
“The CCI IT Academy represents a long-held aspiration. It is my firm belief that IT skills can be transferred to anyone with a passion for the industry in a way that sets them up for continued success. By creating an ecosystem that blends education, hands-on experience, and mentorship, the IT Academy is drawing skills into the sector and providing an opportunity to individuals who have not historically had one. Taking an active role in addressing the skills shortage in the sector should be a responsibility of all IT leaders globally,” says CCI South Africa Chief Technology Officer Mervyn Pretorius.
This is just the beginning for the IT Academy. CCI intends to expand the Academy to meet the demand from employees. “We have had significant interest from contact centre employees who are interested in pursuing a career in IT,” says Phillips. The intention is to accept 15 to 20 students in the next Academy intake, which is scheduled for January 2024.
“We are committed to creating a bright future for our employees, and creating jobs that provide sustainable employment at scale. As a people-centred business, it makes complete sense for us to empower our employees with valuable skills that will not only help them develop successful careers in IT, but that will contribute towards a broader and more diverse pool of IT professionals in the BPO industry,” adds Andrew.