The quest to find data scientists for South AfricaBy Staff Writer 7 June 2021 | Categories: feature articles
As businesses become more data centric, South Africa and indeed the world, is in dire need of people who can not only make sense of the mountains of data collected, but who can also put their findings into production.
This explosion of data is causing a worldwide shortage of data scientists and other technical professionals. With South Africa's record high unemployment, Invictus Capital sees this as an opportunity for young people with technological affinity to get into this space.
“A data scientist is often described as someone with a blend of computer science and statistical knowledge,” explained Sipho van der Putten, Chief Technology Officer at Invictus Capital.
Working with business stakeholders, a data scientist designs data modeling processes, creates algorithms and builds predictive models to help analyse data to assist a business in reaching its goals.
“The shortage is worldwide, but in South Africa in particular, there is a clear mismatch between supply and demand. Specifically, there aren’t a lot of people who graduate with the relevant technical skills,” warned van der Putten.
He added that career opportunities to learn and develop skills are also in short supply.
In general, large South African corporates will hire a data scientist and have them do basic analytics and analyst work. This is mostly because many of the business goals are focussed on shorter term objectives.
“These kinds of roles do not offer any real development opportunities and will keep the demand for experienced data scientists high without filling the vacancies,” he noted.
Invictus Capital created a graduate internship programme to provide the opportunity for technical graduates to develop the skills required that van der Putten says data scientists require.
“At Invictus we recruit a lot of smart, young people who have either just finished their tertiary studies or who have a year or so of work experience,” he explained.
The company trains participating graduates, offering autonomy and flexibility to develop their skills. Coupled with accountability and responsibility for their area of work, the business has found that it works well “because people are in control of their own destiny,” continued van der Putten.
The company also offers employee equity schemes and various bonuses linked to performance.
“We need to make a concerted effort to not only find, but also train young people to meet a growing skills demand, and more importantly, make roles available locally,” he concluded.
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