ManpowerGroup SA looks to develop local ICT skills

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 12 Jun 2023
Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup SA.
Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup SA.

US-based workforce solutions firm ManpowerGroup aims to bridge South Africa’s ICT skills shortage gap.

The company recently announced its second cohort of students have graduated from the ManpowerGroup South Africa IT Academy.

The academy was launched to tackle the global skills shortage at a local level through a fully-immersed educational experience designed to support those from disadvantaged backgrounds who demonstrate promise and aptitude in IT.

ManpowerGroup SA’s IT Academy offers certified courses for potential employees from diverse backgrounds, experience and skill levels.

Following a three-month custom-created course, candidates write a certified exam and apply their skills to a challenge faced by the industry. An internationally-validated tool is then used to evaluate candidates, helping employers find the best for their workforce.

According to the company, the IT Academy, in collaboration with the Digital Youth ICT Academy, has two courses covering the IT sector.

It notes that 2022 saw a successful foray into delivering Amazon Web Services and Java Full Stack Software Development programmes. The graduates are now equipped with software development skills, including front-end development, back-end development, database management and software testing.

They also have soft skills such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving.

‘Meaningful BEE’

In an e-mail interview with ITWeb, Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of ManpowerGroup SA, says the company was established in 1999.

“We are owned by ManpowerGroup, based in the US and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. ManpowerGroup is the third-largest workforce solutions provider in the world and has a presence in over 70 countries across the globe.”

She points out that in July 2014, 25% of the business was sold to the Imvula Education Empowerment Fund as its black economic empowerment (BEE) partner.

The fund is a broad-based BEE development trust supporting the youth beneficiaries of the Maharishi Invincibility Institute, which aims to provide talented but historically-disadvantaged black youth with access to quality tertiary and vocational education and a holistic structure to support their education and developmental needs.

This means that every year, 25% of ManpowerGroup SA’s profit is paid to Imvula, which is used to provide bursaries to students who would not have had the means to study towards a degree, Van den Barselaar explains.

“In ManpowerGroup, we talk about ‘doing well by doing good’, and this partnership fits perfectly with this. For us, it is meaningful BEE.

“We will never close the skills shortage gap unless we create a pipeline of IT-skilled individuals. For this purpose, we have started the IT Academy.

“The thinking behind this is that we will work with our clients to identify the skills gap in their sector and then set up a programme that will allow potential candidates to study towards the required qualification. Graduates could then move into the client’s business to gain practical experience.”

She notes these candidates can stay on ManpowerGroup’s books as contractors or temporary employees and then, after an agreed period, can be taken permanently by the firm’s clients.

“The fantastic thing about this programme is that the client can be part of choosing whom they would like to go onto the programme. We have an assessment tool to determine the candidate's suitability for the programme, and based on the results, the client gets to choose the most suitable candidates.”

Van den Barselaar notes that not everyone can become skilled in a particular IT qualification.

“IT grads are definitely an option, but anyone with the aptitude could be eligible for the programme. In a challenging economic environment and with demand so high, there’s also an opportunity for companies to upskill existing employees, rather than pay a premium to bring in skills from the merry-go-round.

“So many companies are being forced to retrench workers in some departments, while suffering a skills shortage in others – rather than contributing to unemployment, why not take people who know the company and the industry, and teach them the skills you’re short of to help meet the demand?

“We see that it’s not just a case of ‘get a degree, get a job’ – so it’s crucial for us to work with our clients and partners to help develop talent that meets real industry needs to help grow the job-ready talent pool while improving the lives of our country’s youth, and by extension, the South African economy.”