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With organisations being more reliant on digital technologies than ever before, companies across the continent are seeking digital skills to support their innovation and productivity. According to the World Bank more than 230 million jobs in Africa will require digital skills by 2030.

For the BMW Group in South Africa, the SAP Young Professional Program is an essential source for onboarding talent with in-demand digital skills. The global programme which runs under the umbrella of SAP Skills for Africa on the African continent, has allowed the BMW Group to play a crucial role in shaping South Africa’s ICT leaders of tomorrow. It is a collaboration that has produced long-term benefits for BMW, the talented young graduates that formed part of the programme, as well as the South African economy as a whole.

Hans Coertze, ZA Hub General Manager at BMW Group, says: “We can only achieve the required goals and targets of our dynamic company if we have passionate, humble and smart people.”

Local talent driving global innovation

The BMW Group officially opened its BMW SAP Competence Hub in South Africa in 2014, only the third such hub after the US and India. Now known as the ZA Hub, the facility provides IT services to the BMW Group worldwide with a focus on SAP applications.

Coertze adds: “I can gladly say that I was delighted by the quality of the young professionals that joined the ZA Hub. I am even more proud that we have young talent in South Africa who can support us and who we can assist to develop and function in an international business.”

Since 2015, the ZA Hub at BMW Group has taken on board 22 graduates of the SAP Young Professional Program, with the majority of them having built successful careers in the company.

Not only a training programme, but a life changing opportunity

Anele Mzongwana, who was part of the programme in 2015, says it has been a challenging but fun experience over the past four years working at BMW. “I joined BMW straight after graduating from a SAP Skills for Africa programme and have had nothing but good experiences with the company. One of my highlights was when I supported a technical go-live in Germany just a year after joining the company.”

The SAP Young Professional Program is a three-month training and development opportunity for university graduates that teaches technical and functional knowledge of key SAP technologies. A part of the training involves the development of future and soft skills to ease the graduates’ integration into their new workplaces. Graduates of the programme are placed with SAP customers or partners as SAP Associate Consultants, with a focus on delivering value and making an immediate impact.

Keshika Naipaal, a programme graduate from 2018, says being selected to participate in the programme has not only provided her with skills to build her career, but has also given her lifelong friends and great memories. “I am grateful for the amazing coordinators and mentors that provided us with guidance and support along the entire journey of the programme. This experience is one I will never forget.”

For Ntomboxolo Siganagana, being part of the SAP Young Professional Program has been a life-changing opportunity. “When I joined BMW in 2018 I had no advanced business application programming (ABAP) skills at all and wasn’t familiar with the environment and culture at the company. With support from my manager, scrum master and two mentors, I was able to contribute as much as anyone in the team. It wasn’t easy, but with the support of my team I was encouraged to learn and make something of myself.”

Kelebogile Phajane, a recent graduate who works in the Finance Tax Integration and Customs team, says the level of introspection that occurs during the training is immense. “The programme taught me different skills and goals, including human and professional behaviour, advanced communication skills and design thinking. You cannot help but go to the depth of your strengths and weaknesses. I never thought I would work in an environment such as BMW, where your boss wants nothing but the best for you, an environment where your work ethic matters and where teamwork is a priority.”

BMW, BMW Group South Africa, SAP, SAP skills , work readiness, smetechguru

Closing the digital skills gap: a joint responsibility

“Our purpose statement ends with #WalalaWasala, which means ‘you snooze, you lose’. I can clearly see that the candidates who joined us did not snooze, but instead grabbed the opportunity to become valuable team members at the ZA Hub,“ Coertze adds.

Marita Mitschein, Senior Vice President: Digital Skills Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa at SAP and Managing Director at the SAP Training and Development Institute says the ongoing collaboration with the BMW Group is a best practice for how companies can jointly address the digital skills challenge while driving innovation. “Organisations are relying on digital skills more than ever to innovate and deliver value. Over the past four years, BMW has built a powerful team of skilled SAP experts graduating from the Young Professional Program that have made a positive and lasting contribution to the company’s innovation efforts. We will continue to work closely with our industry partners to ensure they have the work-ready digital skills they need to run at their best.”