Big technology companies dominate the world’s biggest stock exchanges, so how do we turn this flow of capital into jobs for South Africans? With the demand for skills increasing exponentially, finding work won’t be difficult for those lucky enough to have experience. The challenge we have is gaining this experience and that our traditional internship programs are not nearly sufficient for South Africa’s large unemployment rate. So the question actually becomes, how do corporates provide skills to new talent in a scalable and sustainable way? The key is to come up with a model that generates profit from the outset and one that offers value for all participants in the process. Accountants doing their articles are a prime example of where this works, where real services are delivered to a client, the firm earns fees and the young accountant earns a salary while gaining valuable experience.
For the technology sector to create jobs it needs to mimic this model with real apprenticeships and hands-on, real-life experience that creates value for all role players in the process.
In a typical South African corporate business, graduate programs or internships are often handled by the Human Resources Department instead of revenue generating business units. While HR has an important role to play, these programs need to shift from being a cost-centred model to a profit-based model where they are driven by business and where they create value for customers.
Take the BlueSky Academy for example. By focusing on enablement, a business model was conceived where job creation positively affects the business bottom line.
“This is what other tech companies should look at if they really care about job creation” says Jason Broomfield, Sales & Marketing Manager at BlueSky, a South African Salesforce partner who has incorporated job creation as a strategic pillar to their business.
These initiatives need to be profitable in order to attract investment and have a real chance of putting a dent into the unemployment crises. If it’s seen as all cost and no upside it will never be scalable and will likely fall over as soon as budgets dry up.
So how does BlueSky do it? They invest in their people and trust the process, putting in place clear outcomes and milestones for each individual to achieve. Candidates are developed via a strong mentorship program, delivering real projects while also picking up soft business skills along the way.
“Our clients are fantastic – they support BlueSky’s enablement program and in return, we ensure that we deliver value and that all role-players benefit from the engagement.” says Broomfield.
Since its inception in 2016 the BlueSky Academy has had 35 candidates come through its doors, and a third have stayed on to work at BlueSky. Lindokuhle Mdubuli is one of the many successful applicants who gained skills which include: CRM, Apex, Security, Lightning Reports & Dashboards, Integration, Data Management and Automation Processes. “Moreover, I have gained communication skills which are paramount for a consultant as I am dealing with clients daily,” explains Mdubuli.
Trailhead is an online training tool developed by Salesforce that can be used by BlueSky Academy graduates to upskill and choose what talents they want to develop. “Having Trailhead modules I can complete at my own pace has helped me adapt to the constant evolving clients I work with, which gives me the confidence to succeed in this dynamic field,” says Mdubuli.
The unemployment problem requires innovators and entrepreneurs to apply the same energy to solving it as they would to developing a new product or business plan, that’s when the real impact will be seen.