By Bayo Sunday
ABOUT 97 per cent of organisations in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and other parts of the region are expected to have a tech skills challenge in 2023.
According to SAP Africa, which disclosed this in its ‘Africa’s Tech Skills Scarcity Revealed’ report released and discussed during a webinar, yesterday, added that 93 per cent of firms surveyed in Africa said the need for tech skills has increased in the past 12 months.
Managing Director at SAP Africa, Cathy Smith, said there is an urgent need to invest in skills development and training to ensure Africa can capitalise on its youth dividend.
Smith said: “More than half of the world’s population growth between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, where 1.3 billion people are expected to be born by mid-century. With the correct investment in skills development, Africa’s economy could transition away from its reliance on natural resources to build the world’s future tech workforce, bringing untold economic and social benefit to the continent and its citizens. However, as our research reveals, African organisations still face some difficulties with attracting, retaining and upskilling suitably skilled tech workers.”
The report found that lack of skills is having a negative effect on the continent’s digital transformation efforts.
According to it, four in five organisations surveyed reported some negative effects from a lack of tech skills, with 41 per cent reporting that employees are leaving due to the pressures they experience as a result of understaffing. Other consequences include not being able to meet client needs (reported by 46 per cent), reduced capacity for innovation (53 per cent), and losing customers to competitors (60 per cent).
SAP said nearly all organisations expected to experience a tech skills -related challenge in 2023. It said more than two-thirds (69 per cent) also said they expect to experience a skills gap in the year ahead.
According to the data, the top skills challenge for African organisations is attracting skilled new recruits, although in South Africa the retention of skilled employees narrowly edged out attracting skills as the top challenge.
In response to the ongoing tech skills challenges, SAP observed that organisations are taking bold steps to ensure they have access to the correct tech skills.
It disclosed that 41 per cent said that upskilling of existing employees would be a top priority in 2023, while 40 per cent said the same about reskilling employees.
“Companies are also adopting technology tools and flexible work practices to ensure they can attract, retain and mobilise the correct mix of tech skills,” said Smith., adding: “Seven in ten organisations currently use a human capital management or employee experience tool, while nearly half (45 per cent) of companies were open to remote work, although most want employees to be in the office at least some of the time. This new workplace dynamic will require leaders to co-create new models for work, with constant collaboration with employees to ensure alignment with company objectives and culture.”
Other findings showed that Kenyan organisations are more upbeat about their skills prospects than Nigerian or South African organisations, where only 53 per cent of Kenyan organisations expect to experience a skills gap in the next year, compared to 80 per cent of Nigerian companies and 73 per cent of South African organisations.
FURTHER, the report said Kenyan organisations are more likely to expect employees to work in the office all the time, where 37 per cent of her organisations want employees in-office full-time, compared to 23 per cent of organisations in Nigeria and only 13 per cent of South African ones.
SAP said the top tech skills challenge for African organisations is attracting sufficiently-skilled new recruits, except in South Africa. It disclosed that organisations in Kenya and Nigeria cite attracting skilled new recruits as their top tech skills challenge in 2023, but in South Africa the top challenge is retaining skilled tech workers.
While South African organisations place a greater premium on digital transformation skills, where 70 per cent of her firms have an in-demand skill, compared to only 33 per cent of organisations in Kenya and Nigeria.
According to the report, Nigerian companies are experiencing the impact of a lack of tech skills to a greater extent, where her companies surveyed said they’d suffered a negative impact due to a lack of tech skills, compared to 60 per cent in Kenya and 78 per cent in South Africa.