SA`s IT training not up to standard
The local ICT training industry is far too complacent about its own future, says IISA president and CompTIA international sales and marketing director Adrian Schofield.
Speaking at the third meeting of e-learning Africa, a combined training and skills development initiative sponsored by CompTIA, Microsoft and Masterskill, Schofield sketched an overview of where SA stands in terms of industry standards, skills development, training and employment within the field of information and communication technologies (ICT).
The theme of the presentation was that the local ICT industry must work together to overcome the lack of progress in developing effective solutions to the skills development needs of the sector.
"We have reached the point where we have to take some form of definite action. We need to lobby the relevant authorities and representative organisations to work with the industry in order to take the country in a direction that is conducive to training and education development, growth in learner numbers and ultimately success through growth in the sector overall. We have to provide a united front to put pressure on the relevant industry associations and get the message through to the Information Systems, Electronics & Telecommunications Technologies (ISETT) Sector Education & Training Authority (SETA) that we are not satisfied with their performance to date."
Schofield levelled his criticism at the various stakeholders within the ICT training arena. He suggested that they lacked a proper understanding of the national and sectoral structures like the National Skills Authority, SA Qualifications Authority, National Standards Bodies and Standards Generating Bodies as well as the ISETT SETA and other institutions.
The end result, said Schofield, is that bureaucracy and red tape is hampering the implementation of skills development and credible training measured according to genuine standards. The confusion in the marketplace has led to a drastic reduction in training volumes instead of the intended increase, and Schofield said that it was up to the training providers to remove the confusion through well-founded advice and guidance to their customers. Failure to do this would result in many training institutions going out of business, he added.
According to the Labour Department, the main objective behind the skills development legislation is to create more employable people, through more effective training and assessment methodologies than had been used in the past.
But, says Schofield, the lack of clarity together with a fragmented approach to change has meant that few real "South African" standards have been generated. The Skills Development Levy withdraws up to R100 million per annum from the industry and most of this is either being wasted or will revert to the National Skills Fund and be lost to the ICT sector.
"The industry`s representatives need to be passionate missionaries with an understanding of the broad issues, so that they can provide meaningful input to the statutory bodies and drive the process of getting value for money from them."
Schofield told guests that the way forward has to be the continuation of existing, effective training according to the standards that are available, while applying pressure on those people whose job it is to produce the framework and implementation of the new legislation.