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ICT skills survey raises key concerns for SA

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The 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey has revealed that economic pressure, a delay in policy implementation and lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education are key concerns for skills development in the ICT sector. 

In its eight consecutive year, the 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey by Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) says economic pressure, a delay in policy implementation and lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education are key concerns. The report says the situation is further plagued by a lack of current, coordinated data about the ICT sector in South Africa, which is leading to fragmented policy initiatives, that cannot be properly measured.

With an objective to identify the most pressing skills needs from the corporate perspective, balanced with the view of current skills capacity of practitioners and future skills development, Adrian Schofield, JCSE’s manager of Applied Research and author of the report, says that the 2017 JCSE ICT Skills Survey report highlights the increased demand for cybersecurity practitioners as well as the growth in software development: “In some respects, it is more of the same, but there is an undeniable urgency to make progress if South Africa is to benefit from the impending global upswing in the ICT market, which is estimated to reach US$4 trillion in 2018. In this scenario, demand for relevant skills will continue to outstrip supply, giving South Africa an opportunity to empower its Black youth to fill the gap, boost the economy and extend these benefits into the broader continent.”

The Survey further outlines that while the stagnant South African economy continues to restrict growth in the demand for ICT skills due to limited budgets, the global recession of recent years seems to be abating: “Demand in Europe and the United States for ICT skills is generally strong, yet despite this upswing, South Africa is lagging its peers in Africa (notably Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt) who continue to seek the value that technology adds to economic growth and social development,” says Schofield.

According to MICT SETA 2017, the ICT sector is estimated to contribute more than R250 billion (approximately 6%) to the country’s R4 trillion GDP. Schofield says that South Africa, and all its stakeholders, need to recognise their dependence on ICT and what needs to be done with a greater sense of urgency: “We as a collective body need to actively address and acknowledge the need for investment in teaching and training; the potential contribution to society that filling the ICT skills gap will make; the benefits that can come from better coordination and planning; and also the urgent need to move plans from discussion to execution.”

Another concern according to Schofield is the delays in implementing policies, such as the migration from analogue television signals and the rollout of broadband networks. This, he says, continues to frustrate the potential contribution of the ICT sector to the overall economy.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE, says that the report yet again emphasises the concern at the lack of improvement in South Africa’s basic education for the majority of pupils: “Exposure to and familiarity with ICT for all learners is essential, in order to equip them to adapt the modern tools to their daily lives. Some laudable initiatives have appeared, such as the use of tablets in Gauteng schools, but they have yet to reach a sustained, critical mass for all grades of learners.”

He says that there are some successful initiatives and interventions noted in the skills development pipeline. Children are benefitting from technology in the classroom, such as VastraTech’s ‘Wired for Life’ project, and training programmes from companies like Google and SAP: “Young people can engage with activities in technology hubs, such as the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, where they can acquire not only technical skills, but also get exposure to entrepreneur development and business incubation.”

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Legion gets a pro makeover

Lenovo’s latest Legion gaming laptop, the Y530, pulls out all the stops to deliver a sleek looking computer at a lower price point, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Gaming laptops have become synonymous with thick bodies, loud fans, and rainbow lights. Lenovo’s latest gaming laptop is here to change that.

The unit we reviewed housed an Intel Core i7-8750H, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU. It featured dual storage, one bay fitted with a Samsung 256GB NVMe SSD and the other with a 1TB HDD.

The latest addition to the Legion lineup has become far more professional-looking, compared to the previous generation Y520. This trend is becoming more prevalent in the gaming laptop market and appeals to those who want to use a single device for work and play. Instead of sporting flashy colours, Lenovo has opted for an all-black computer body and a monochromatic, white light scheme. 

The laptop features an all-metal body with sharp edges and comes in at just under 24mm thick. Lenovo opted to make the Y530’s screen lid a little shorter than the bottom half of the laptop, which allowed for more goodies to be packed in the unit while still keeping it thin. The lid of the laptop features Legion branding that’s subtly engraved in the metal and aligned to the side. It also features a white light in the O of Legion that glows when the computer is in use.

The extra bit of the laptop body facilitates better cooling. Lenovo has upgraded its Legion fan system from the previous generation. For passive cooling, a type of cooling that relies on the body’s build instead of the fans, it handles regular office use without starting up the fans. A gaming laptop with good passive cooling is rare to find and Lenovo has shown that it can be achieved with a good build.

The internal fans start when gaming, as one would expect. They are about as loud as other gaming laptops, but this won’t be a problem for gamers who use headsets.

Click here to read about the screen quality, and how it performs in-game.

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Serious about security? Time to talk ISO 20000

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By EDWARD CARBUTT, executive director at Marval Africa

The looming Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act in South Africa and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) have brought information security to the fore for many organisations. This in addition to the ISO 27001 standard that needs to be adhered to in order to assist the protection of information has caused organisations to scramble and ensure their information security measures are in line with regulatory requirements.

However, few businesses know or realise that if they are already ISO 20000 certified and follow Information Technology Infrastructure Library’s (ITIL) best practices they are effectively positioning themselves with other regulatory standards such as ISO 27001. In doing so, organisations are able to decrease the effort and time taken to adhere to the policies of this security standard.

ISO 20000, ITSM and ITIL – Where does ISO 27001 fit in?

ISO 20000 is the international standard for IT service management (ITSM) and reflects a business’s ability to adhere to best practice guidelines contained within the ITIL frameworks. 

ISO 20000 is process-based, it tackles many of the same topics as ISO 27001, such as incident management, problem management, change control and risk management. It’s therefore clear that if security forms part of ITSM’s outcomes, it should already be taken care of… So, why aren’t more businesses looking towards ISO 20000 to assist them in becoming ISO 27001 compliant?

The link to information security compliance

Information security management is a process that runs across the ITIL service life cycle interacting with all other processes in the framework. It is one of the key aspects of the ‘warranty of the service’, managed within the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The focus is ensuring that the quality of services produces the desired business value.

So, how are these standards different?

Even though ISO 20000 and ISO 27001 have many similarities and elements in common, there are still many differences. Organisations should take cognisance that ISO 20000 considers risk as one of the building elements of ITSM, but the standard is still service-based. Conversely, ISO 27001 is completely risk management-based and has risk management at its foundation whereas ISO 20000 encompasses much more

Why ISO 20000?

Organisations should ask themselves how they will derive value from ISO 20000. In Short, the ISO 20000 certification gives ITIL ‘teeth’. ITIL is not prescriptive, it is difficult to maintain momentum without adequate governance controls, however – ISO 20000 is.  ITIL does not insist on continual service improvement – ISO 20000 does. In addition, ITIL does not insist on evidence to prove quality and progress – ISO 20000 does.  ITIL is not being demanded by business – governance controls, auditability & agility are. This certification verifies an organisation’s ability to deliver ITSM within ITIL standards.

Ensuring ISO 20000 compliance provides peace of mind and shortens the journey to achieving other certifications, such as ISO 27001 compliance.

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