In2IT's learnership enters second phase after initial success
In 2015, In2IT launched a learnership programme for qualifying engineering, ICT and related graduates and soon-to-be-graduates, which puts them through rigorous and comprehensive training and provides them with the practical skills necessary to become IT professionals.
The successful programme is now entering its second year, and 35 newly skilled IT pros have already entered the workplace, with more to come. In2IT's goal is to grow a pool of suitably skilled IT resources from which they can draw to fill their own staffing needs, as well as those of other IT companies, both in South Africa and abroad.
"The learnership programme provides essential practical skills to bridge the gap between completing one's studies and entering the workplace," says Cleo Gnawa, Project Manager at In2IT. "Our programme is designed to provide qualifying candidates with a hands-on practical knowledge of IT in order to make them employable and give them the experience they need to easily find work in their chosen area of expertise."
The seven-month programme comprises two levels. The first takes place in a classroom, and includes practical components such as business communications and interpersonal skills, as well as training in networking, IT security, data centres and software. The second level comprises dedicated training in the learner's chosen specialty. For example, a student who expresses aptitude and interest in networking will undergo CCNA training. In the final months of the programme, the learners shadow a mentor in the field, coming into contact with customers and gaining valuable work experience.
"Skills can be taught," says Saurabh Kumar, MD at In2IT, "but talent can't. We look far and wide for that talent to ensure we find the best South Africa has to offer and candidates are selected from a wide range of tertiary institutions. In2IT is also focusing their attention on upliftment, drawing suitable candidates from FET colleges in local and rural areas."
Qualifying candidates are chosen based on their grade and capabilities, but their circumstances and background also form a part of entry criteria. "We will not ignore a promising student with marked IT skills where, perhaps, language has been a barrier to excellent grades," elaborates Gnawa. Once the candidates have been pre-selected, they undergo extensive interviews to confirm their suitability, attitude and drive before being accepted into the programme. In much the same way as an internship, the learnership offers candidates an entry level salary so that they are free to dedicate 100% of their attention to the programme.
"We are so proud of the 35 trainees who have already completed the programme," says Gnawa. "These 35 have been offered permanent positions at In2IT and we have another 15 finalising their training in June this year whom we hope to employ." It is In2IT's goal for the programme to train and create upwards of 200 employable and capable IT professionals by June 2017. Gnawa confirms that not all of these professionals will be employed by In2IT; however, those who are not should have no difficulty finding great positions following completion of the programme.
"We encourage our peers to partner with us in this endeavour, either in offering to employ our trained candidates or in creating similar learnership opportunities," says Gnawa. "If more South African IT companies get on board, we would have less need to recruit beyond our borders, and we would have a skilled IT labour force that is world class."
With the world becoming increasingly digital, and as technology entrenches itself into everyday life, the need for successful and meaningful initiatives like In2IT's is great. Many companies currently source IT skills from outside of our borders, and the bigger - and more competent - South Africa's IT resource pool grows, the less we need to rely on the rest of the world to provide them, boosting our economy and IT industry in one fell swoop.