October 2014 | Cynthia Rodrigues

IT’s raining skills in Africa

In South Africa, TCS is empowering local talent by training students in a wide range of IT skills

Along with training in IT skills, TCS is also offering on-the job training to youth in South Africa

Since skilling is a sustainable path to empowerment, this is the route that Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has chosen to meet the aspirations of youth in South Africa. The company's skills development training programme, dating back to 2011, focuses on building strong employable skills.

Varun Kapur, vice president and head of Middle East and Africa at TCS, explains: "We have introduced several skills development programmes for the benefit of youth in South Africa. These skills will enhance their competencies and enable them to strive for a better career." The training covers a wide range of relevant modules such as Java EE, Mainframe, C++ Imot, .Net, BIPM, Bizskill, V&B, Testing, EIS and Oracle DB.

Centers for learning
TCS has invested significant resources in setting up two IT learning centres to support the education needs of adults and children. The IT training centre, set up at Diepsloot in collaboration with nonprofit Change the World, seeks to train underprivileged youth and the unemployed. The company has also partnered with the Department of Public Enterprise to establish an IT learning centre at Eastern Cape. This centre is named after the late Oliver Tambo, a South African anti-apartheid politician and a central figure in the African National Congress. Another TCS initiative, aimed at schoolchildren in rural areas, seeks to create IT awareness. The target is to touch about 100 children a year through training.

Also on the agenda are plans to organise the TCS IT Wiz, a quiz which has gained immense popularity in India where it was first initiated. The quiz is now conducted in several international venues. This animation-based quiz initiative will engage young children in South Africa to encourage strategic and lateral thinking and take learning beyond school walls.

Reaching out to youngsters
The emphasis on skills development is core to the TCS philosophy of giving back to society. Mr Kapur says, "TCS has made a commitment to South Africa, and we are passionate about empowering the local talent. We have, therefore, made training a core focus of our plan to develop internal capability."

The company has taken great pains to build its graduate development programme. This is a 50-day intensive course that covers software engineering concepts, quality management systems, software tools and communication skills.

TCS also offers specialised training to its customers on niche skills. This initiative involves on-the-job practical training with assigned mentors who are subject matter experts. In the past few years, TCS has worked to ensure knowledge transition for more than 2,000 South African customer employees, who have been trained in a wide range of IT skills, including applications and tools from Oracle, Microsoft, Solaris, PeopleSoft and Siebel. The subjects covered include mobile applications, business analysis, system architecture, system design and project management, among others. The training has already covered more than 8,000 hours.

True commitment
Going local is another of the company's sustainability pillars, and one of its goals is to localise 80 percent of global deliveries. TCS has established service delivery and resource centres in Johannesburg to serve local customers; these will be managed and staffed by South African citizens. Going forward, the operations at the delivery centre will be expanded to service international customers.

The local focus is one of the ways that TCS demonstrates its commitment to inclusive development. TCS is proud of being recognised as a level 2 contributor to the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), a South African initiative to uplift underprivileged members of society. The goal of BBBEE is to distribute wealth across a broad spectrum of previously disadvantaged South African society.

TCS, one of the world's biggest brand names in the IT sector, is taking its competencies and domain knowledge to a new level by using IT to enable and empower local youth in South Africa and bring about a transformation in their lives. 

Read more about Tata skilling initiatives around the world

Overview: How to catch a fish
Skilling initiatives from the Tata group aim to help youngsters around the world become employable
Striving to empower
Tata Strive, the group-wide, group-led skilling initiative, aims to set up a replicable model for training and skill development
Life skills for India
Tata companies are training thousands of youth across India in skill sets that make them employable and productive
STEM talent for America
Tata companies are addressing the deficit in science, technology, engineering and math skills in America to build a much-needed talent pool
Grooming young talent in China
The TCS China University steps up to offer soft skills training in partnership with 25 universities across the country
Skilling up in Singapore
NatSteel's upskilling initiatives are tied to the Singapore government's aim of building a more competitive workforce