Accenture’s SA cloud centre to train hundreds of engineers

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Global IT consulting firm Accenture has launched the Accenture Cloud Engineering Centre in SA, to train hundreds of cloud engineers in efforts to fuel Africa’s cloud computing boom.

The introduction of the centre was driven by the growing need for cloud engineering skills in SA and across Africa, amid the anticipated increased demand for cloud services, notes Accenture. This, as international hyperscalers such as Microsoft, Amazon and Dimension Data continue to invest heavily in the data centre market.

The announcement was made yesterday by Willie Schoeman, MD of Accenture Technology in Africa, at the virtual Accenture Cloud Week 2021 event.

Schoeman noted that as data traffic demand and cloud adoption continue to soar in SA, the increase in connectivity and broadband services is driving huge demand for more data centres, leading to a widening skills gap.

“I truly believe we are witnessing a cloud computing boom on the African continent as a result of the current data centre rush – and from a South African perspective, that is even more prevalent because SA is very fast becoming the hub for servicing data centre computing to the rest of the African continent.

“The Accenture Cloud Engineering Centre will initially house 250 engineers – our ambition is to grow the centre to at least 1 000 engineers in the next 18 to 24 months,” explained Schoeman.

“Not only is this going to assist us to serve our local clients with skills, but we absolutely believe we can serve global organisations from SA too.”

Willie Schoeman, MD of Accenture Technology in Africa.
Willie Schoeman, MD of Accenture Technology in Africa.

Participants will be offered a range of cloud computing skills, including critical and creative thinking programmes, to enable them to plan and develop software engineering and cloud applications.

The centre was introduced in addition to a newly-established Skills 2 Succeed Africa initiative by Accenture, supported by Salesforce, in collaboration with digital career accelerator CapaCiTi, which provides digital skills training to hundreds of local job-seekers.

CapaCiTi, supported by Accenture and Salesforce, will lead the digital training programme and experiential training that focuses on technical and professional development.

“A critical factor of the training programme is to ensure the candidates not only walk away with technical skills; we plan to also teach them soft skills and provide ongoing coaching and mentorship, so they are completely workplace-ready by the time they are certified,” said Kuven Pillay, director of Salesforce Business Group at Accenture South Africa.

The first 50 candidates have commenced with their training programme, and the next 12 months will see another intake of candidates.

In demand but scarce

SA’s thriving data centre industry has led to a huge digital skills gap for industry players to fill.

Last year, ITWeb reported SA was set to experience a cloud computing “land grab” as more organisations take their workloads to the cloud.

Data centre service providers are also seeing an increase in data traffic, as a result of more submarine communications cables coming to Africa.

As the amount of data produced by organisations engaged in digital transformation increases exponentially, so does demand for the skills sets and tools to build the infrastructure and data pipelines required by businesses.

Jon Tullett, research manager, IT services for IDC, previously told ITWeb: “Cloud skills are in short supply anywhere in the world, and SA is very low on the list of countries that are winning that race.

“The more specialised the skill, the more severe the problem; we don’t have enough cloud skills nor do we have the engineers, or the integration skills, or the development skills, or the third-party support skills. It’s not only end-user organisations struggling to find those skills but the entire ecosystem,” said Tullett.

The Dice 2020 Tech Job Report cited data engineering as the fastest-growing job in technology in 2019, with 50% year-over-year growth in the number of open positions.

Interest in this function has been escalating for years, as organisations discover data engineers are key to unlocking the value of their data.

Despite the hype around the fourth industrial revolution in SA, there remains a chronic shortage of all types of ICT skills required to help local organisations succeed in the digital economy. This is according to the 10th edition of the ICT Skills Survey by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering at Wits University, in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa.

According to the report, skills associated with the current set of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, blockchain, automation, data science and programming were found to be the scarcest.

“While less than half of enterprises polled said the ICT skills shortfall is having a major effect on their business, virtually all respondents said they felt a responsibility to help their employees reskill to meet the new era of digitalisation,” according to the survey.

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