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Experienced with a demonstrated history of training in the Information Technology industry, Zakiya Cadear is the Founder and Development Director at Skills Alliance. Zakiya strongly believes that skills development is part of the best retention tools and benefits a company can provide an evolving workforce. Skills Alliance is bringing opportunities to Africa and is working towards growing African skills locally and has developed partnerships across Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana. Zakiya is currently working on a project which will enable those that do not have access to the right knowledge and systems to reach their best potential efficiently and cost effectively using her knowledge in Global and Corporate, she will enable businesses and individuals through knowledge sharing and awareness

1. What is your background?

My career focus for the past decade has been on Adult Based Training and Education which I have learned and developed within IT. Based in South Africa and working with Multinational companies, I have sound understanding of our approach with the National Qualifications Framework as well as vast experience in the evolving global trends in IT education.


2. What inspired the birth of Skills Alliance?

Finding the right fit for specific learning needs is a real challenge. I have been in a position to find suitable courses for my teams and clients and I also operated as a supplier for specific vendors respectively. In both areas I have come across scenarios (personally and with supporting my fellow learning managers) where sourcing the correct training at the right price and time can work out to be an utter nightmare. So, instead of complaining about the problem, I decided to build the solution.


3. What challenges did you face during the inception of Skills Alliance?

The answer to this would be a comedy of errors mostly on my side. Being my own IT person was not fun, and then having to deal with the accounting side was really quite a damper. Thanks to my network of professional friends and partners, we were able to overcome these gracefully. The other hurdles were quite fun working through, so I really cannot complain much more.


4. What services do you offer?

We are your outsourced IT Training Department. We assist from beginning to end, understanding your challenges and budget requirements and can help you source the right training for your needs. At the moment we have various partnerships with international and local partners offering a good host of training courses and workshops.


5. How is the market responding to your services?

The response has been phenomenal. We have grown substantially over a year. Our customers trust us, and this has been invaluable for our success. The Vendors and Partners we work with appreciate and share our vision and have given us great support. We have also increased our pool of freelancers and are seeing consistent demand for the skillset we have.


6. What do you want Skills Alliance to achieve long-term?

Easy access to seamless IT learning for everyone across the globe. We are working on our digital platform for this and I am really excited at the magnitude we are aiming for…lookout for our launch in the upcoming weeks.


7. When you look at the current IT landscape in Africa what you say are the shortcomings in our education system?

Awareness and mindset. Many of us don’t realise the access we have to education which is at our fingertips – literally speaking. I look at our generations that are so savvy with digital socialising on their mobiles, yet, are still waiting for opportunities to come to them, or are reliant on others (parents and employers) to expose them to education that is readily available, and in some cases,absolutely free.

Companies are reliant on HR professionals and procurement departments to manage and procure their training for IT technologies that are quite vast and not always easy to understand. Consumers are not aware of all the learning options available and tend to go for the obvious / legacy education platforms which can be costly and time consuming. Larger Institutes focus on the box learning approach while niche providers are not able to the get enough exposure to the market… it’s a long list and we have our work cut out for us.


8. How has the 4th Industrial Revolution impacted on Africa and do you think the current workforce is equipped to deal with the consequences?

We still have many rural areas that do not have internet infrastructure which is a huge challenge in itself. Over and above, we have seen many retrenchments of many administrative/customer facing roles that are not IT savvy for the 4IR wave. These are the bread winners that are supplementing homes in our communities, so the problem is deeper than the workforce. There is a bright side though, I now see larger enterprises placing efforts to make online learning available for ALL their staff to access – regardless of their roles which is a good fight to combat retrenching dormant roles. It is not the full solution though. We cannot assume everyone can easily learn online at their own pace, and some learning will require a human to teach. To answer simply, we are getting there but we need to accelerate this process.


9. What are the benefits of developing our skills locally other than outsourcing from other continents?

It is important for us to be aware of our economical requirements and status. Currencies play a large role and exchange rates can be quite unpredictable resulting in heavy budget impacts. Housing professionals from external countries (especially 1st world) poses a greater challenge as there are additional costs in maintaining their travel and lifestyle needs which really do not bring any ROI on what they are here to provide. With C-19, we have the opportunity to re-look at our budgets and decide if we really need the hefty travel costs… and can we start looking locally and developing our own talent.


10. How is Skills Alliance contributing to the Social and Economic Development in South Africa and Africa?

We are providing many of our local talent to multinational corporates as Lecturers and IT specialists enabling these individuals to get an income. Our conversations are not limited, and we are happy to work with individuals and business looking for opportunities with our global network. We are here to form Alliances and create mutual beneficial relationships across our network which has also contributed to our success.


11. How do you normally deliver your training and how have you reinvented your business in the face of Covid19?

We mainly delivered course in a traditional classroom with the expected mint sweets and lunch order. Other options include 30 day access to a e-learning courses which were not too popular for most. Since C-19, we converted to Virtual Online Classes without hesitation. We have a thorough coordination process that include orientation and demos to our instructors and students and a virtual reception that ensure everyone is received and supported from the start. We have also gained the confidence with a global market by bringing our skills forward with great rates supporting them through the pandemic and helping their business stay afloat. This has now become a big focus area for us.


12. What would you like to achieve on a personal level?

For me, the essence of life lies in the simple things. Being raised as an outdoors kid, I really enjoy nature, bike rides, hiking and spending time with my family. I am also quite restless about the number of kids that are living on the streets and my dream is to retire as a founder of well-equipped and maintained network of orphanages that are designed to develop a multi-skilled, high impact generation of thinkers… This is where I will reside to fulfil my purpose with education and enablement.


13. Describe yourself in a five-word sentence?

Ready to make a difference!


Contact: zakiya@skillsalliance.co.za
Linkedin: Zakiya Cadear

Minnie-lee Tagwirei
Minnie-lee Tagwirei
Minnie-lee Tagwirei, is the editor of Beetroot Online Magazine for professionals, entrepreneurs and businesses.

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