In the midst of a pandemic, Software AG moulds tech minds
At a time when closing the skills gap in South Africa has never been more important, software solutions business Software AG has extended and adapted its internship programme to reflect a world, and industry, changed by COVID-19. To add to the impact, and in response to high levels of youth unemployment, Software AG has invested in the YES programme, a government established initiative that seeks to provide even more opportunities South African youth.
Officially launched in 2019, the Software AG intern programme saw an initial nine young students recruited for an intensive 12-month programme, ushering them into a new future of Software AG tech and Software AG clients.
After an unpredictable year in 2020, the intern programme was then extended and adapted to accommodate the changing environment brought about by COVID-19.
Ndazi Nokoane, Transformation Director at Software AG, says: “We couldn’t allow our first alumna go out into an uncertain world of unemployment, so we decided to keep them on for the rest of 2020.”
Working with partners to help interns work
In the 2019/2020 programme, Software AG endeavoured to secure a commitment from its customers and partners by upskilling their interns in Software AG products and services that are a prerequisite for their customer and partner base.
The interns were then contracted as junior analysts for six months. Subsequent to proving themselves in that ‘working’ environment, the interns went on to acquire full-time employment and were absorbed onto the customers’ and partners’ payrolls.
Through the programme, Software AG provides mentoring and coaching, classroom training on system development and Software AG products. Not only this, they provide soft skills training as well, which is fundamental for their employability. Skills such as effective communication, presentation skills, negotiations, understanding the customer, influencing the customer, time and stress management, conflict management, etc.
Throughout the extension phase, Software AG reached out to its customer and partner ecosystem to ascertain which of them were employing their interns. Thanks to this, the intern programme saw a 100% absorption rate into the job market by Software AG customers and partners.
Intern programmes in a COVID-19 era
With the onset of COVID-19, Software AG needed to adjust and adapt in such a way that they operated the programme as a ‘business model’. Working remotely became the norm and that was a big social experiment for everyone in the public and private sectors. In their relationship-based business, where everything is traditionally handled face-to-face, the shift to working telephonically and virtually was seamless.
“The need for technology increased and that accelerated business transformation. It did, however, expose the gaps and the rapid need for them to be filled. Fortunately, they had the systems and tools in place and were properly positioned to assist their customers and partners accelerate their business transformation,” says Nokoane.
In 2021, the intern programme took a slightly different approach. The customers and partners were involved from the beginning. They were in the recruitment and selection process of the eight interns, so fundamentally, they selected the interns. Software AG presented them with a resource on a 12-month programme – six months would be invested in training and six months would be invested in their businesses, where the interns would acquire hands-on workplace experience.
Robyn Kibby, Transformation Specialist at Software AG, added: “The reason for this is that the customers and partners use Software AG products and services, such as Web Methods and Adabas & Natural; that’s why they are the target audience to deploy these interns, in order to make them absorbable into the market post the programme."
The financial investment by Software AG is extensive. All costs, from the inception phase, training and mentorship, connectivity as well as salaries for the junior analyst contracts, were secured by Software AG.