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ICT and Skills Shortage: South African Case Study of Retaining ICT-Skilled Professionals
Abstract and Figures
South Africa is currently experiencing a shortage of an estimated 70,000 plus information and communication technology (ICT) professionals, which is compounded by the fact that the number of information and communication technology (ICT) graduates is now showing a decline. At an organisational level, the effective use of ICT for organisational information management is difficult without having appropriately ICT-skilled (e-skilled) employees. The shortage of e-skills in South Africa and much of Africa forces companies to work at retaining their existing e-skilled professionals, but this task is becoming increasingly difficult. Thus, this study established the objective to explore the factors that contribute to the retention of skilled ICT professionals in one international consulting organisation in South Africa, which also might bear relevance to other similar organisations operating in many other African countries. This study aimed to show that identifying these retention factors would lead to a better understanding of effective ways to retain much needed ICT-skilled professionals in organisations in South Africa. The findings of this study can help organisations in South Africa (and possible in other African countries) to formulate effective retention strategies and also provide a base for further academic research in this field. This qualitative exploratory research was done by reviewing the pertinent literature in order to identify relevant retention factors and the subsequent empirical testing of these factors. For that purpose, a single case study methodology was deployed, embracing three levels of ICT professional: consultants, managers and directors. The reviewed literature elicited 15 factors influencing the retention of e-skilled professionals. After testing these factors with 25 professionals at Company A, it was found that the following five factors are the most important when deciding to remain with the company or not: compensation, promotional opportunities, empowerment, interpersonal relationships, and personal well-being. This suggested that the ICT professionals in Company A are overwhelmingly driven by the need for reward and personal well-being, thus confirming that they predominantly belong to the Theory X type and, philosophically, to the Rational-Economic beings.
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