South African IT industry
A career in IT (Information Technology) opens up an increasing world of opportunities. The IT industry includes telecommunications services, telecommunication equipment manufacture, computer hardware manufacture, packaged software development, and IT professional services (e.g. consulting).
It is estimated that there were some 25 000 IT professionals working in South Africa in 1995, which translates into only 4.9 professionals per 1000 of the workforce. Despite this small number, growth in the number of people pursuing IT careers between 1995 and 2000 has been increasing. In fact, at 6%, the growth rate was in 2000 almost four times that of all other professions.
The labour market has responded well to this demand for IT skills because of
- the good employment opportunities and salary premiums compared to other professions,
- the low barriers to entry (i.e. no specific degree requirements and low initial training requirements)
- the relatively short training period (for programmers it may be only a few months and at times a new skill can be learnt in the matter of days).
Despite the rapid growth in the number of people pursuing IT careers, there still exists a shortage of such skilled persons in the South African IT industry. This can be seen from the salary premiums paid in relation to other professions, the much more rapid career progression, high vacancy rates and high staff turnover. The demand for IT skills brings IT training into the forefront as the primary way to extend ones opportunities.