Computers, cellphones, modern electronic communication devices and internet connectivity have become basic needs for everyday life. The advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) can no longer be ignored as it is a reality which can only be embraced. This declaration was made by Professor Wellington Masamba when welcoming participants to Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) ICT Day last Friday. In attendance were different stakeholders including local authorities, ICT teachers and students from selected senior schools.
According to Prof Masamba, the aim of the day was to sensitise current and prospective students about the state of ICT jobs in Botswana. It was also to shed light on the employability of Computer Science & Information Systems graduates in Botswana. The day was meant to deconstruct the myth that ICT is a difficult subject and already saturated in the market, leading to low uptake of ICT programmes at tertiary institutions. He urged stakeholders to help tertiary institutions debunk myths and bring a total turn-around on the uptake of ICT programmes at BIUST and other tertiary institutions.
"It is important for the society to know upfront that ICT graduates can solve community challenges in the area of Cyber-security, Data analytics and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) important to the Banking industry. Administration, Education, Technology and Agricultural sectors also benefit from the graduates," said Prof Masamba.
Contributing to an Industry panel discussion, Mandla Mapeo of Botswana Post said they have IT analysts, system administrators and mobile application developers.
Keke Nthate of Infinity-Tech revealed that his company staff comprised of system design and innovation experts. He explained that the majority of his staff is within the country, but they also collaborate with experts from all over the world. He said this was because certain skills like Artificial Intelligence and Block chain are not available in the country and they have to be sourced from outside.
BIUST Alumni Dreadson Mathemba, who works at Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), stated that in their organisation they have network analysts, network engineers, security specialists and data analysts. He told the students in attendance that the job seeking experience starts when one enrols for first year at university.
“The mistake that many of us make is that we thought that we will be employed when we have a degree. No. You will only get employed because of the unique service you will be bringing to the organisation. It’s about what you are bringing into the market. I chose Information systems because for the course I wanted, there was no space so I ended up in my second choice.”
He said it was in his second choice that Iife started being meaningful and started looking out for opportunities where he could apply the skills he had acquired.
Fortunately for him, the advisory committee was created during his time at BIUST, an advantage for him because it enabled him to be attached to different organisations to hone his skills. “It was at that point that I asked myself how I would tailor my degree for the future, how do I do professional certification to make me relevant when I leave university?” he added.
Lesego Peter of BGI said whether it’s a bank, mining or engineering sector when one applies for a job they should know that the technology that is sought is the one that provides solutions. She said there are no positions for general IT officers nowadays and therefore a computer science graduate must prepare for a specialised position.
She reminded those venturing into computer science to be aware of the current trends in terms of solutions that are being utilised that will ensure that organisations benefit from them. She debunked the myth that the industry does not need IT personnel.
“The industry says it needs IT in relevant fields that you can acquire on your undergraduate courses now knowing where the demand is and now focusing on building your knowledge and skills. As a result now when you attain your degree you will be very much in demand and can have an option to get two jobs at the same time,” she explained. She also urged the female secondary students to venture into computer science, stating that males and females have the same brain and therefore females should not box themselves.
“You don’t have barriers. You can choose any career you so wish. We are actually in demand of many women to be in these fields.” The panellists were in agreement that there is still demand for ICT graduates with appropriate skills.
The ICT Day is aligned to two of BIUST’s strategic objectives of Research and Innovation Excellence, and Engagement for Development. Through the ICT Day, BIUST sought to boost the number applicants for ICT programmes and enable them to make informed decisions about whether or not to pursue Computer Science and Information Systems programmes or alternatives and contribute towards the endeavour to be knowledge-based economy.