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Call for local businesses to develop SAP talent with CITi, Government & UCT

Interview by Zimkhita Buwa, Senior SAP BI Consultant, City of Cape Town and Mentor on CapaCITi 1000 Programme with Jenny McKinnell, Cape IT Initiative Executive Director on the CapaCITi 1000 Programme for the SAP/BI/ERP Stream for 2012 and its benefit for SAP customers in Cape Town.

Zimkhita: Jenny what is your role in CITI and can you please tell us about CITI as an organisation and its objectives?
Jenny: The Cape IT Initiative (CITi) is a non-profit organisation established in 1998 to develop and support the ICT industry in the Western Cape. In 2010 it expanded its focus to support the ICT-related skills needs of all ICT-enabled industries as well (particularly financial services and retail). Our programmes fall into four key areas: Skills development (CapaCITi 1000 programme), Enterprise Development (run by our Bandwidth Barn subsidiary), Market Growth and Research and Competitiveness. I am the Executive Director, although I refer to myself as “Ms Q20” because most of my work is in oiling the wheels and facilitating the collaboration and commitment that is necessary in order to make our multi-stakeholder programmes work.

Zimkhita: What is the CapaCITi 1000 programme and the motivation behind it?
Jenny: CapaCITi 1000 is an industry-demand led multi-stakeholder programme initiated in 2010 by the Cape IT Initiative and DEDT PGWC, in collaboration with industry, academia, the relevant SETAs and the e-Skills Institute of the Department of Communications. The primary objective of the CapaCITi 1000 programme is to “Add, Up-Skill or Re-Skill 1000 people with IT skills in Critical Short Supply in the next 5 years”. It forms part of a bigger possibility created by the Cape IT Initiative, namely that “New and existing businesses create an additional 5000 jobs (or employ 5000 more people) in the Western Cape in the next five years.” 

The first initiative under the CapaCITi 1000 programme was focused on addressing the critical need for Business Analysis and Systems Analysis skills in the Western Cape Insurance sector of the financial services industry and the related ICT sector that services this vertical.

It is being successfully piloted with a Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Analysis and Systems Analysis specifically created by UCT for the programme. In 2011 there are 38 interns at 12 host companies in the Insurance and ICT sector in the Western Cape.
In 2012, this Business Analysis and Systems Analysis programme is being expanded to include a stream focused specifically on the needs of the Retail Sector (with a proposed expanded focus on SAP, BI and ERP – the exact nature of which is still to be finally defined as a result of multi-stakeholder discussions currently underway and not yet finalized completely.)  The intention is that the programme will be ready for national rollout in 2013.
 
Zimkhita: Why the need for the SAP/BI/ERP Stream?
Jenny: A large number of companies in our region have made decisions to switch to SAP and there is a critical skills shortage as a result.

Zimkhita: Is this programme endorsed by SAP?
Jenny: SAP is supporting this initiative by being one of the stakeholders in the programme, and by assisting us in identifying companies to participate in the initiative.

Zimkhita: There is a SAP/BI/ERP Stream Multi-stakeholder Engagement Meeting on the 14th of October. What kind of stakeholders are you targeting?
Jenny: We are targeting management, CIOs, HR and other key decision makers at large corporates in the Retail and ERP/BI using Sectors. The event is being hosted by Andre Stelzner, CIO of the City of Cape Town and Ant Smith, CIO Traditional Retail of JD Group.
UCT’s Prof Kosheek Sewchurran will be presenting on Business Analysis, Market Competitiveness and the PG Dip in Business Analysis & Systems Analysis (The need for the programme, the programme theory, the programme results to date). This will be followed by a discussion on understanding the key drivers behind the need for Business Analysis/BI/SAP/ERP in the retail and other sector, as well as the other critical ICT skills shortages, in order to get industry feedback on the proposed 2012 BA SA PGDIP training programme and schedule with SAP/BI/ERP. What SAP modules are required? What retail/other domain specific knowledge is required?  Other needs? Next steps, etc.

Zimkhita: If there are SAP customers/partners that are interested in getting involved, who can they contact?
Jenny: They can contact me on jenny@citi.org.za or call our offices on 021 409 7000.

Zimkhita: If there are people wanting to join the programme, what is the application process?
Jenny: We are actively recruiting students for the 2012 programme and the first batch of 118 is being vetted and those that meet UCT’s entrance criteria will have their first opportunity to pitch themselves to host companies on Saturday 15 October. Applicants can apply online at www.capaciti1000.org.za. Note that we are training people from all disciplines, not just IT graduates and Humanities and Social Sciences graduates in particular are invited to apply as we have found that they are among our top performing students in the current pilot programme.

Zimkhita: I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with the interns and it has been humbling to see the kind of impact the current CapaCITi programme is currently making. What has been the highlight for you?
Jenny: This programme is designed to train “Innovation Professionals” not “Certified Professionals” and UCT has created an innovative and highly effective educational programme to ensure we deliver these skills to industry.
I have been bowled over by the transformation in each of the interns. Our programme is a bootcamp and it is extremely demanding (a bit like a mini-MBA) – This year 61% of the students did not come into the programme with any previous exposure to Business and Systems Analysis so they started in the deep end and have had to cope with onerous deadlines, competing pressures between the demands of their work at their host company and the UCT work requirements and they have all had to deal with significant amounts of stress – and each and every one of them has grown and developed way beyond what I ever imagined might be possible. They all inspire me by their commitment and passion and energy.

Zimkhita: Thank you Jenny for taking the time to chat to us and hopefully SAP customers will reach out and get involved!


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