Johannesburg, 26 Nov 2009
COMMON, an independent community of IBM PowerSystem users within various industries, is set to start its main goals of skills development through knowledge share and skills transfer, through community and collaboration with IBM's Academic Initiative Programme.
A member of the COMMON USA community for 20 years, motivational speaker and COMMON Board Member, Trevor Perry, says: “I am pleased to see COMMON in South Africa, it's about time. The skills transfer that COMMON offers the IBM i and Power System community is invaluable. By taking isolated specialists and giving them the opportunity to network with the next generation or YIPs (Young I Professionals) farms new talent, empowering the industry to sustain itself.”
Set up as a Section 21 company, this non-profit organisation will offer free membership to individuals. “TEMBO Technology Lab partnered with Edgetec Systems to bring COMMON into South Africa on a transfer of ownership basis. Ownership to COMMON Africa was officially handed to the newly appointed board of directors at the recent launch, in order to maintain its standards of advocacy and independence.
“As a section 21 company, COMMON will not be profit driven and instead will keep its core focus on the community it serves,” says Marinus van Sandwyk, Founder and CTO of TEMBO Technology Lab.
Part of the COMMON community is a youth forum, the YIPS. YIPS has close ties with IBM's Power Systems Academic Initiative Programme, which has set its sights on the skills shortage burdening South Africa's IT industry.
“The programme aims to serve the skilled resource needs of mid-range server and large enterprise server clients. Many of our clients have expressed a shortage of skills in this area,” says Cally Beck, Power Systems Academic Initiative Programme Manager, Northeast, British Indian Ocean Territory and Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
IBM started the South African programme in 2008 as part of the drive to boost skills within the industry. With the help of Vaal University of Technology (VUT), the company was able to approach top students and, if willing, partake in the programme. “We had many talented third year students eager to participate in the programme. VUT believes that the additional skills gained from the initiative will not only provide practical experience, but will also maximise future employment opportunities for our graduates,” says Fikile Mposula, ICT Lecturer at VUT.
Top student Tshepo Mogane, IBM Academic Initiative Programme Graduate and YIPs board member, says: “The programme offered training in various programming languages enabling us as students to fill in the gaps for RPG programmers plaguing the South African market. Upon my graduation, I was able to walk into an internship at Mediscor, an independent and specialised managed healthcare company. I am now a junior programmer and hope to grow further with the company.”
“I have been involved in COMMON activities for a number of years and have seen firsthand the benefits it affords to all its members in networking, sharing knowledge, best practice and innovative ideas,” says Beck.
“COMMON is a great ground for success, the more the community grows and depends on each other, the better for the industry. The more support given to the academic initiatives such as the IBM Academic Initiative Programme will only serve the industry. The more qualified personnel, the less chance of 'thievery' between companies and the happier the user community will be,” says Perry.