South Africa Introduces EMEA’s First National Qualification in Robotic Process Automation to Support Tech Skills Creation

 New qualification has potential to positively impact the severe skills and youth unemployment crisis in the country.

  • Technology agnostic, the RPA Developer qualification empowers learners to acquire a solid set of RPA skills and offers predictable career path.
  • The national qualification in RPA is set to boost upskilling and reskilling among existing employees and lower barrier of entry for young people into tech jobs. 
  • The initiative went live in August 2022 in collaboration with UiPath, the Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA), the Quality Council For Trades & Occupations (QCTO), and local educators.

NEW YORK, NY & JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – March 14, 2023 – UiPath (NYSE: PATH), a leading enterprise automation software company, has collaborated with the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT SETA) in South Africa to develop the first national qualification in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. The initiative aims to provide the workforce of the future with valuable tech skills and will potentially have a positive impact on youth unemployment by creating new jobs in software development, setting up for further growth the expanding automation ecosystem in South Africa. 

“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,” said Mark Gibbs, President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa at UiPath. “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 organizations. 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.

“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,” said Matome Madibana, CEO, MICT SETA. “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.

“The introduction of this qualification is an important milestone for the software automation industry with ripple effects on the business landscape in South Africa,” said Gregory Williams, Regional Vice President, South Africa, at UiPath. “As automation is increasingly becoming a priority for businesses in the region, the initiative will deliver consistency in providing aspiring RPA Developers with the skills and knowledge required for the role.”

“Within the Foschini Retail Group, one of the top performers throughout our three-year automation journey is our finance function, where the automated processes are in their double digits, amounting to an ROI of 242% over a period of 18 months. As we look to scale our automation deployment within the enterprise, we welcome the introduction of the national qualification for RPA Developers in South Africa as a valuable step towards creating a highly qualified workforce of the future, which can both drive and benefit from enterprise automation,” said Mo Kola, CTO Business Solutions at TFG.

“Technological innovation advances through disruption, which brings about both opportunities and challenges. However, the flip side of technological disruption is technological absorption. How are we going to mitigate skills churn and the skills mismatch through reskilling and upskilling? The NQF accredited RPA programme does exactly this for the South African economy. It gives displaced employees and unemployed youth an opportunity to learn skills that are in demand. Further, being a recognised qualification, means that it builds on the individuals’ educational achievements,” said Ugan Maistry, CEO, FIRtech.