Using IT to stimulate employment opportunities in other industries
While the local IT industry can never grow at a rate fast enough to solve the country`s unemployment problem, it does have a vital role to play in enabling other industries to grow, which in turn stimulates employment opportunities in these industries.
"South Africa`s leisure and tourism industry, for example, is a potential gold mine of foreign income, and businesses should be looking at ways to leverage technology to turn the potential into reality," says Adrian Schofield, international sales and marketing director of CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association). "Sun International is a prime example of how IT has become an integral part of the casino operation, not only in terms of technology, but also especially as far as providing employment is concerned."
"The introduction of smart card gaming on slot machines has replaced the use of coins and tokens for the purpose of play," explains Sun International CIO Bob Barrowman. "Bearing in mind that a casino is a 24x7x365 operation, the introduction of technology provides its own set of challenges, in particular, those associated with hardware and network standards, software and firmware support, and systems maintenance. Paramount to the success of these systems is the acquisition, training and retention of the appropriate people skills."
Although the IT department at Sun International is only 160 people strong, 14 000 other employees would not have jobs if the IT department did not function.
"Clearly, technology opens up a vast array employment opportunities for many South Africans," says Schofield. "Consequently, the development of skills in a small number of people is essential for the future wealth of a much larger number."
IT, he continues, can also play a vital role in South Africa`s proposed bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. "Using the Internet to advertise what the country has to offer, providing e-commerce solutions to facilitate airline reservations, and the development of a reliable public transport system are just some of the ways IT can be used to bring the Olympics to South Africa, and provide a myriad employment opportunities in the process."
"Information technology forms the backbone of South Africa`s ability to develop and grow, and earn a place in the global economy. By developing the appropriate skills to support this backbone, the IT industry will be helping to assure employment for many previously unemployed South Africans," Schofield concludes.