Developing the next generation of SA’s ICT leaders

Johannesburg, 04 Jun 2024
Students InfoVerge.
Students InfoVerge.

Inspired by its executive group to do more to address skills development, IT Infrastructure and business development services company, InfoVerge, has just onboarded its third cohort of graduates ready to step into the workplace. The premise that you can have an education – but without on-the-job experience, you are going to keep being overlooked for work opportunities – is one that has resulted in many talented graduates being unable to join the workforce and bring their own unique qualities to an organisation.

“Some of us at InfoVerge, having been in similar positions ourselves, introduced this programme three years ago to reach out a hand and lift young people up towards moving into successful careers,” explains France Nkoe, InfoVerge’s Chief Strategy Officer.

“Internships with our company, as an ICT sector solutions and services provider, is the equivalent to serving articles in other disciplines, and being able to develop these interns' talents has multiple merits, as it provides employment and the opportunity for employment, along with contributing the scarce IT skills that this country desperately needs, developing IT skills capacity.

“Programmes like this have been lacking in the ICT sector and their value understated and undervalued.”

According to Nkoe, this programme is a natural extension from the company helping finance specific students' formal education. This year, 10 young undergraduates, six males and four females, all chosen for their success in their studies and having particular attributes, now enjoy increasing their knowledge, learning the technical hard skills and gathering the soft skills needed to be effective in the corporate world. The programme also has the blessing of the MICT SETA, which partners with InfoVerge and helps take this initiative forward.

The internship is for a year, during or after which interns are either employed by InfoVerge or the company helps place them with its strategic partners or clients.

Young professionals

“When they join our organisation, the attitude changes from perceiving interns as every company employee’s go-to for tasks that they feel are beneath them,” continues Nkoe. “They join us as young professionals, recognised for the skills and knowledge they bring to the company and valued for their enthusiasm, innovation, creative thinking and fresh approaches to challenges.

“They receive a stipend from the company and one from MICT SETA, so that over the year they are with us, they can navigate life. We also equip them with tools, mentorship, career coaching and on-the-job training. The work environment is hybrid and also one that allows the flexibility for interns to spend time within the three company streams of application development, data management and science and infrastructure. Within each stream there is a dedicated mentor and interns can find out which discipline excites and engages them the most.

“They get project training and exposure while an independent service provider sits between us and MICT SETA, providing them with progress reports.”

Nkoe says interns are not bound to InfoVerge, but have the freedom to explore workplace opportunities that may arise. He says the structure of the programme has been very deliberate, from its inception, to meet the vision of crafting future leaders, developing IT professionals that are not restricted to the IT sector of ICT solutions and services providers, but they can become leaders in various industry verticals.

“We believe that companies not investigating or actively applying programmes like this are missing out on the mutually beneficial opportunities internships provide. They should be a part of the overall plan for developing professionals in this country. We have the good news stories to substantiate the value we have realised.

“The financial cost should not be a barrier to doing a programme like this. We do have clients without the budget for stipends, but who can add so much value by investing skills into young people and we are willing to help with the resources.

“In the ICT sector, we all have the opportunity to change young lives and all our interns are doing very well in their projects, leveraging their own uniqueness and making these projects successful,” concludes Nkoe.