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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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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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