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Robotic Process Automation gets official SA nod

South Africa has introduced the first formally recognised RPA national qualification in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

A new national qualification has the potential to create new jobs in software development and provide a clear and defined career pathway for individuals interested in automation.

In a first for the African continent and for the entire EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africaregion, a national qualification in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is set to boost upskilling and reskilling among existing employees and lower barrier of entry for young people into tech jobs.

The initiative is a collaboration between  UiPath, a leading enterprise automation software company, and the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA). It means that certified developers will now be able to create RPA solutions that emulate human actions, execute test procedures, and modify and improve existing RPA solutions

“South Africa has seen the emergence of a strong automation ecosystem, which includes forward-thinking enterprises that have made intelligent automation a priority, automation services providers, and universities who teach their students automation skills to prepare them for the workplace of the future,” says Mark Gibbs, UiPath president for EMEA. 

“Automation adoption has led to the creation of new roles; however, the need for qualified automation talent is acute. This qualification is set to provide companies with the next generation of talented RPA Developers and help narrow the current skills gap in the country.”

Recent research points to skills shortages being among the most significant business risks facing South African organisations. According to the 2022 JCSE – IITPSA Skills Survey, RPA skills are among those recording “significant shortages,” alongside information security, big data design and analytics, and artificial intelligence, for which demand exceeds supply by a big margin.

For this reason, the introduction of the national qualification in RPA is well positioned to help address the current shortage of RPA skills in South Africa. It will empower workers with the skills needed to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the field of automation, which is becoming ubiquitous across industries. 

Considering how unemployment among South Africa’s youth is a pressing issue, the development of a standardized qualification in RPA will provide a clear and defined career pathway for individuals interested in this field, ultimately delivering a positive contribution to the local economy. According to MICT SETA, the National Qualification in RPA will prepare young professionals and the current workforce to deal with the disruptive effects of new technologies. The qualification will also enable young professionals to innovate and create new products and services across industries.

Says Matome Madibana, CEO of MICT SETA: “We are hopeful that by means of this qualification, we will bridge the current shortage of skilled labour within the ICT and digital industries and ultimately, increase the youth employment rate in South Africa. It is important for all stakeholders to come together and ensure South Africa will have people with the skills to innovate and exploit Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Perhaps, most importantly, it will provide those whose jobs face redundancy to be reskilled.”

Certified RPA Developers will be able to create RPA solutions that emulate human actions during the project development stage using platform knowledge and data analysis capabilities. They will also be able to execute test procedures and modify and improve existing RPA solutions with the skills required to build reusable components. This aligns with the findings of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) by providing people with the opportunity to further their skills and benefit from employment opportunities in a talent-strapped technology industry.

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