Harish Lala

It might be argued that outsourcing specialised software engineering work to an Indian supplier could take away from local skills development and job opportunities.

But nothing could be further from the truth, says Indian IT outsourcing giant Zensar Technologies. Zensar, which has been very active in South Africa for several years, provides IT outsourcing services to the South African market and not only brings software developers and engineers from India to service immediate needs and scale, but also invests heavily into sustainable local skills development to create a balanced mix across shores.

Harish Lala, VP and Regional Business Head for Africa at Zensar, points out that it’s a matter of servicing the IT needs of the business in an environment where supply of skilled resources is not enough.

“Businesses focus on their core activities and outsource non core activities to specialist IT service Providers like Zensar, who then leverage on their capabilities across various countries to bring in the scale, efficiency and quality needed by its clients. But simply bringing the skills from overseas is not going to solve this long term challenges of not having enough skills in the country”, he says.

To create a long term sustainable model, businesses & IT service providers need to come together and develop local skills which cannot be done by academia alone. We need collaboration between academia, IT service providers as skills alignment agents and end user industry, to not only develop skills but generate meaningful employment to generate momentum. That’s what Zensar’s model is, to create that platform and bring all parties together to ensure a sustainable skills development agenda, Lala says.

“For the past 18 months, we have been sourcing suitable graduates from local universities, based on their skills and the needs of our clients. They then undergo training and spend six months in India, where they are exposed to off-shoring processes and culture. They come back employable and enter a work environment within our clients’ operations. And all this is done in collaboration with our clients.”

Zensar has its own development centre in Rivonia, South Africa, where local graduates are also trained and later on work to support the businesses. As Zensar expands its operations into the rest of Africa, this development centre will serve as offshore centre for those countries and gradually the same model will be rolled out there too.

Around 100 graduates are absorbed into this system every year.  While the programme does require an investment, it isn’t a charitable exercise, but a business model, says Lala.

“These graduates are now employable, and they generate revenue for the company,” says Lala.

Lala feels that more South African companies could benefit from this model. “Developing skills is everyone’s responsibility,” he says.

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