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2024: The year of demand-led training

The year is 2024, and South Africa’s booming technology sector faces a critical challenge: a severe skills shortage in software development. While companies crave innovative minds, a disconnect exists between traditional training programs and the real-world needs of businesses. Enter redAcademy, an organization leading the charge towards demand-led training, an immersive approach that equips individuals with the specific skills companies urgently require. This article delves into how redAcademy’s innovative model solves the talent puzzle, benefiting both businesses and aspiring tech professionals.

2024 needs to be the year that we move the needle as business leaders toward demand-led training, which will assist in reducing the software development skills shortage that South African companies are facing. This gap exists because there isn’t a real push toward aligning training programmes with the skills that companies require for specific roles.

Training candidates—or Sprinters as we call them—through a demand-led approach makes a valuable impact on their lives and the organisation. Immersive training means that candidates are familiar with a company’s technology stack and office culture, making them immediately employable.

South Africa needs an agile, skilled, and adaptable workforce, as this is a critical objective for the private sector. This is especially true in an environment in which South Africa is facing growing economic challenges and rampant youth unemployment.

Jessica Hawkey, MD of redAcademy, details how to implement demand-led skills training in an IT department within a company, as well as its benefits.

redAcademy. Jessica Hawkey Managing Director of redAcademy.

Traditional training

Samelane highlights that traditional teaching measures still dominate the way things are done. Yet, there is a distinctive shift towards immersive experiential learning, which prepares students for real-life challenges.

Immersive training also benefits students who prefer to learn in a real-life or live environment. It enhances their understanding of the subject matter, increases their engagement and motivation, and improves their retention of information. This is particularly crucial in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world.

As companies’ requirements change, so too does the way tech skills are taught. Not only is there a need to amend course curriculum to adjust for a specific necessity, but we must also move towards a more experiential training environment—giving students hands-on experience in a live environment. This is a shift towards doing rather than hearing how things should be done.

What is it?

A 2022 report from the Department of Higher Education and Training, Skills Supply and Demand in South Africa (PDF report here) found that South Africa, overall, has a large imbalance between the demand for skills, and the supply. This paper states that several workers are either underqualified or overqualified for their current jobs, and there are mismatches between a worker’s qualifications and the level of prowess required for their jobs.

Demand-led skills development is a key solution for ensuring that those who desperately need jobs can find them while matching candidates with companies that seek specific skills in software development.

As a company providing skills development in a live environment, it is possible for companies to consider candidates who already have relevant experience through work-integrated learning. This process is akin to an internal promotion.

Why it works

Demand-led skills training in a live environment benefits not only work seekers but also companies because it resolves a specific skills gap and puts the commercial objective front and centre for training.

It allows, in our experience, the employers the ability to focus on more strategic elements of the business and identify further areas in which they need to develop a pipeline of talent.

We have already seen evidence that immersive training also enables the development of softer skills. It enables those entering the workforce to engage with their peers and other colleagues in a way that fits in with the company’s culture. It also means that they will learn the confidence to put their ideas forward, which adds a diversity of voices to the company, enabling their growth and creative ways of problem-solving.

Company benefits

Demand-led training aligns with company priorities in terms of business strategy and creates a pipeline of talent to help fulfil those plans in the IT department. It also saves money because it cuts down on the cost of hiring.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, hiring a new staff member can cost three to four times the employee’s annual salary. The bulk of the expense comes from the time department leaders spend assisting HR in the hiring process.

Immersive training cuts down on this spending because the process is more akin to promoting from within the company rather than hiring from outside and having to assess skills and cultural fit. It reduces pressure on HR to recruit, reduces pressure on hiring managers to oversee, and reduces time to productivity of team members.

Onboarding new talent quickly can help achieve additional savings by allowing them to contribute to the current team immediately. All stakeholders, including trusted partners who have made an impact on changing livelihoods, need to form partnerships to shift from supporting training for training’s sake to measuring actual impact.

This will stand South Africa in good stead as we seek to move with technological trends while also creating jobs and benefiting the economy.

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Photo courtesy Freepik
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