ESC@PE 2016 is our very own technology conference and this year we did it in style. We covered topics on software development, business analysis and project management as well as show casing some of the awesome work we as BBD have done over the years.
As part of BBD’s Social Economic Development initiative that aims to bridge the digital divide, we became involved with Khuphulanani Training Institute (KPI) in 2013. The programme is aimed at providing courses in Information Technology and covering basic computer literacy. They largely target youth who are unemployed, have recently matriculated and who have no access to training institutions.
Here is what a few of the sponsored students had to say:
SibongileNo words can describe the amount of gratitude I feel, nor can they explain the major difference or impact that BBD has made in my life. You have helped me turn from a person who had no knowledge and no skills about the ICT world to someone who now not only has a qualification but knowledge and skills that no one can take away. Thank you BBD, don’t stop making a difference in the lives of our youth.
ItumelengThis was a life changing opportunity, being sponsored by BBD to do Basic End-User computing/Skills development programme was a stepping stone to develop my skills and my future! After I completed the course, I was selected to be an Intern at Khuphulanani Training Institute. It feels like no one can stop me now that I have been granted this opportunity! THANK YOU BBD!!!
PriscillaI am one of the 30 fortunate students who benefited from the sponsored End-user course by BBD in the year 2014. Now I am currently employed at the Khuphulanani Training Institute as a Business Developer and for that I am very grateful. Thank you BBD!
In 2015 BBD became a founding sponsor of the WeThinkCode – A non profit program started by Arlene Mulder and Camil Argon based on the French “Ecole 42” school. WeThinkCode_ offers world-class tuition-free coding internships and incubation for young people in South Africa. BBD joined this movement dedicated to identify, access and train exceptional human capital and IT expertise, transforming the technology education in SA and giving our youth the chance to become world-class programmers and our country’s future tech leaders.
The main ambition of WeThinkCode is to train and develop 100 000 coders in Africa over the next 10 years. Our sponsorship will make a huge impact in eliminating the IT skills gap brought by SA's economy, democratizing education regardless of any socio-economic background or financial means.
The Jozi Java User Group (Jozi-JUG) is a Java User Group which meets monthly on the last Monday of every month in and around the Johannesburg area.
We have BBD staff that take a central role in the organisation and BBD continues to assist in this grass roots development.
On the 26th October BBD hosted Nitsan Wakart at their new offices. The event included a fantastic array of catering and a well visited bar!
A blogger and a coder with a pedantic passion for performance, Nitsan’s work has spanned army intelligence systems, dot.com era startups, financial institutions and innovative product companies. Currently the Lead Performance Engineer for Azul Systems by day, and main contributor to kickass lock free data structures library JCTools by night.
ESC@PE 2015 is our very own technology conference and this year we did it in style. We took comments from previous years, adjusted accordingly, and have came up with a technology event that should not be missed!!! The event boasted 3 tracks with 3 presentations each and covered topics on software development, business analysis and project management as well as some of the awesome work we as BBD have done over the years. These tracks were:
• The Agile documentation oxymoron
• POPI - Closing Pandora’s box
• When I grow up, part 2. Now what?
• Smarter.Faster.Simpler, Part 2. The realisation
• Acturis, from humble beginnings to award winning software
• LifeGauge – changing the way we present data
• Troubleshooting Java Application Servers in the Real World
• Kicking up a storm!
• What does HTTP2 mean for me
Appropriately, tshimologong is the Sesotho phrase for ‘place of new beginnings’. The Precinct is part of an ambitious ICT cluster development programme, Tech-in-Braam, that has swung into action and will re-infuse Johannesburg’s inner-city Braamfontein with a hive of skills training, job creation and enterprise development activity. This dynamic development, which will see programmers, designers, developers and entrepreneurs congregating in a half city block along Juta Street between Station and Henri Streets, is the brain child of Prof Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University, and recently named a co-winner of 2013 IT Personality of the Year Award.
BBD was the first to invest in becoming a “Founding Partner”, as we recognise and believe in the vision and implementation of this ambitious Tshimologong Precinct concept. By sponsoring R250 000, we aim to assist in the creation of this attractive and vibrant Digital Technology Hub in hope to change the lives of millions through the age of rapid innovation, support skills development, job creation, entrepreneurship and the rejuvenation of Johannesburg’s inner city.
In addition to this sponsorship, BBD has been toying with the idea of relocating its research and development department into the hub. This will provide a platform where BBD can interact and effectively communicate with other industry experts and universities. This collaboration between industry and academia will create a culture of learning at Tshimologong not present anywhere else.
“We are creating a hub space where people can get together, brainstorm and work on creative projects, and take part in workshops. Tshimologong will be a start-up incubator and source of skills,” says Prof Dwolatzky. He envisions 24/7 activity in the new precinct, with courses running day and night, as well as hubs where ideas are hatched and creativity has a space to breathe. Plans include formal and informal membership-based groups where likeminded and creative techies can connect, take courses, locate tutors & advisors, and access wi-fi zones & hot desks. He sees specialised forums and conferences taking place, as well as video evenings, career fairs and master classes.
Prof Dwolatzky is in the process of setting up shop in a series of 5 unused buildings where, after some extensive refurbishments, large areas that were once night club floors will become meeting rooms, coffee & snack bars and server rooms. The warehouses will be converted into computer labs and retail outlets will reincarnate as development pods. The Braamfontein neighbourhood was the obvious and perfect location for this precinct as this destination has many advantages:
The vicinity is conveniently situated near two universities (Wits and the University of Johannesburg), therefore characterised by a vibrant student life close to many students and the universities research departments.
It is centrally located with good transportation.
It is the site of local government departments and many non governmental organisations (NGOs) and it is within easy reach of banks and mining houses, as well as a multitude of corporate headquarters, such as those of SAB Miller and Transnet.
Gauteng generates 40% of the country’s gross domestic product and much of it emanates from within a 15 km radius of Braamfontein with all these businesses requiring software and digital services.
With many interested parties clamouring to get involved, The Tshimologong Precinct will offer various courses to industry, host laboratories, house start-up companies in the pre-incubator, Software Architecture and Agile Development forum meetings, conduct research, promote the adoption of the CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) process improvement model in South Africa and develop and improve the skill sets of the next generation of ‘techie’ innovators.
Every year BBD identifies worthy charities that we can contribute towards so as to make a real difference in our surrounding communities. With the recent changes to the ICT Charter for BBBEE, we are obliged to ensure that we focus our spend on initiatives which bridge the digital divide and take technology to those who do not have access to it.
Three main beneficiaries have been identified for this financial year;
Khuphulanani Training Institute, Mphatlalatsane Education Project and The Tshimologong Precinct.
1. Khuphulanani Training Institute in Wynburg, focuses on different computer literacy programmes for matriculants who don’t have access to computers. Their focus is on an introduction to PC’s, word processing, internet and email training, presentations, databases and spreadsheets. (www.khuphulanani.co.za)
2. Mphatlalatsane Education Project offers support for Grade 10 -12 learners from schools in Soweto on weekends and during school holidays. Our focus here is on the implementation of the Computer Application Technology (CAT) Programme, giving the children extra lessons to improve their computer skills. (www.mphatlalatsane.org.za)
3. Through our relationship with the JCSE and Prof. Dwolatsky, we have contributed to the establishment of their Tshimologon Precinct which aims at creating an attractive and vibrant Digital Technology Hub in Braamfontein. This precinct supports skill development, job creation, entrepreneurship and the rejuvenation of Johannesburg’s inner city. (www.jcse.org.za/hub)
4. Other smaller beneficiaries include:
The Cansa Association (www.cansa.org.za)
Read Educational Trust (www.read.co.za)
Shalom House (www.shalomhouseofrefuge.co.za)
I-Africa Caring and Sharing (www.olivershouse.co.za/charity)
Student Sponsorship Programme (www.ssp.org.za)
Diepsloot Youth Programme (no website available)
The University of Johannesburg held their Annual Careers Day on the 25th of July and BBD was there!!!
The University of Johannesburg held their annual Careers Day on 25 July, the HR team braved the early morning and cold weather to recruit eager young BEES to join our Learnership, Bursary and Graduate Programmes. As usual we were kept very busy with lots of students asking questions about BBD, who we are and what we do as well as the projects and programmes that we offer.
The big attraction was our “Win a Mini iPad” competition. The students needed to crack our code to enter the draw. The app was written by Vincent Makhuvha and Thabang Ledwaba, two of our current Graduate students.
And our winner of the day is CHARLOTTE MOSANA who is a third year student studying towards her National Diploma in Information Technology. Congratulations Charlotte and all the best for your studies!
For more information on these projects please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Pretoria’s Careers day was held on 24 July 2013. The HR team manned the BBD stand at the University of Pretoria encouraging the students to become fresh new BEES by joining our company on the Learnership or Graduate Program.
We shared our company’s information regarding our Learnership and Graduate programmes with the students and encouraging them to apply on line. Many of the students were amazed at the size of our company and the fact that we use a whole lot of different technologies.
The BBD stand looked stunning and all our banners, posters and give-aways captivated the students.Our code cracking competition was the highlight of the day as the questions had the students brains steaming to find the solution and obviously to stand a chance at winning a BBD Mini iPad!
Congratulations to Itumeleng Mogoera, currently a 3rd year student studying towards his BIS Information Science. We wish you well with your studies and hopefully join our Team!!!
By Peter Searle, CEO, BBD
When South African companies talk of a skills shortage, some people scoff at the idea and point to the official unemployment rate hovering at around 25%, with young people under the age of 35 making up about two-thirds of those out of work. The scoffers rightfully ask how there can be a skills shortage when so many people are unemployed, many of whom have already given up hope of ever finding a job.
“It may seem strange that some people complain about a skills shortage with such a high rate of unemployment, but the shortage is a fact occurring in areas that require skilled employees, such as programmers, project managers, networking technicians and so forth,” says Peter Searle, CEO of software development company BBD. “The evidence of the shortage is in the costs companies have to pay to obtain these sought-after skills, which are comparable to the costs European and British companies pay.”
Another piece of evidence supporting the shortage is the rapid turnover of staff with these skills. Searle says employees don’t leave because their employer is a bad payer, but because the demand for these skills is so high that companies continually offer more money to poach good people.
“It’s hard for youngsters to resist the temptation of a pay raise, so they move from one employer to the next, not realising the potential damage they are doing to their careers by continually jumping ship,” adds Searle. “At the same time, employers often fail to realise the trend they are setting by poaching to fill their skills requirements, it does the industry in general no good.”
Furthermore, he says that while the ideal behind Black Empowerment and Employment Equity ratios is laudable, the manner in which it is implemented actually serves to reduce the number of black skills in the market because it plays down the benefits of training in favour of poaching skills of the right colour.
Equity ratios miss the boat
“There are simply not enough black skills in the market to allow everyone to have the “right numbers” of senior people on board,” notes Searle. “If government really wants to improve the number of black skills in the market, it should start by enforcing specific numbers of basic skills and then slowly move up the ladder to ensure that the more senior positions can be filled by capable people able to support and mentor other youngsters as they start their careers.”
The limited number of senior black management skills in the market simply means there is more competition for them. They keep getting better pay offers and often move into jobs that are not in the best interests of their ultimate careers or their industries. Another problem the South African business community faces is the poor state of basic education in the country. This is a significant point of failure in the drive to reduce unemployment.
BBD development programmes
In order to develop the skills it needs, BBD has three programmes designed to train and develop BEE programming skills.
The first is a BEE Learnership open to people with a matric certificate or programming or technical diploma. After passing an aptitude test, 20 learners are taken on board for a period 12 months. The first six months are devoted to formal training in programming as well as soft skills, after which they spend the next six months working in the business on teams that have proven optimal for mentoring and training young people.
After the year, some are offered fulltime employment, others are returned to the Learnership for another year if they are not up to speed but show potential, and others don’t have their contracts renewed. Searle says about 75% of the learners are recruited by BBD, while about 25% find jobs in the market.
The second programme is an internship in which BBD looks for people who are studying or want to study. If they have the aptitude and understand that they will have to pass their studies and work in a training capacity at the company, six people are recruited each year and receive a stipend that covers their tuition, accommodation and an allowance.
Finally, BBD offers a graduate recruitment programme in which it takes graduates into the company, trains them internally with respect to soft skills and the way the real world operates. There is, naturally, fierce competition for the best graduates.
“We are also constantly focused on professional development for our staff, not only as a means of continually improving the skills and capabilities of the company and its services, but also as a means to retain staff,” adds Searle. “For those who stick around, not only do they make a good income, they are also continually exposed to the latest in technology and have the opportunity to work themselves onto the teams that do the type of work they have a passion for.
“Job hoppers, on the other hand, may make good money, but they are never around for long enough to turn basic skills into real expertise and make a difference in some of the most exciting IT projects out there.”
by Peter Searle
Leading SA software development company BBD - with operations in South Africa and Europe – is continually striving to bring new skills into its local development teams. Each year the company scours universities for talented graduates to bring on board as interns, and eventually nurture into full-time programmers.
The company’s drive for skills is not simply about finding people with the right aptitude to work for BBD, but also to afford interns the opportunity to participate in the best of real-world development environments. This permits the company to help them develop their skills in specific areas of interest and boost the interns’ and BBD’s development potential.
“This means BBD attracts a host of people from different backgrounds, each with a unique story to tell,” says Peter Searle, CEO of BBD. “The fact is our development teams are a study in diversity, not only because we have men and women from different races and backgrounds, but also because of the stories many of our programmers tell.”
Whatever you may think of a JAVA programmer, you probably don’t think he would be an avid soap opera fan. One of BBD’s rising JAVA stars is more than simply a soapie fan, he was a hit on the Generations series before turning his back on stardom to study JAVA with VZAP. He passed the aptitude test with a 93% score which boosted his confidence – and he has never looked back.
He joined BBD as a learner shortly before the end of his six-month JAVA course and then progressed to the J2EE course with VZAP. Following the completion of the J2EE course in August 2008, he was deployed to BBD’s Vodacom team and was offered a permanent position by BBD in March 2009.
Searle adds that it is not only a programming language that makes BBD’s developers the best in the business, but the mentorship they receive from experienced employees as well as the business and life skills they learn.
One graduate of the BBD learnership and mentoring programme notes, “The spirit of togetherness that exists in BBD’s development team, where individual brilliance is secondary to the success of the team, is a huge motivator. In addition there is very experienced skills base from which to draw knowledge.
“There’s obviously much more that I will still learn, but it helps a great deal that I have established a solid foundation on which I can build. With the pressure to produce at a constant high, I try to make time to take part in on-going training. I’m very excited about being a part of BBD and I will continue to work hard to contribute to the positive progression of the company and my own personal development.”
Another BBD success story comes from the world of multi-player network gaming. While earning his honours in Information Technology from the University of Johannesburg, this gamer secured an internship with BBD and immediately went into the mobile development field. He is still involved in mobile development for Apple’s iOS platform, programming in Objective C and having fun creating animations and user interfaces.
On working at BBD, he says, “it is a great working environment. We are all encouraged to collaborate to accomplish a common goal. BBD employees enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences, which makes work a great learning environment.” And then there are those who had no inkling of finding a career in application development. Another rising star in BBD first obtained a degree in Biomedical Engineering and then another in Electrical Engineering. It was during his studies that he discovered an appreciation for software programming.
After taking a year off to travel through Europe and South America, he was grabbed as a mobile software developer by BBD and is still there today. He says the work at BBD has been challenging, but very interesting. “I think BBD offers a great work environment and a really good infrastructure to grow as a developer. There is a huge base of knowledgeable people and a company philosophy of continual learning and skills development.”
Careful selection of a diverse, yet dedicated team of people has made BBD a leader in its field. Formed in 1984, the company has grown and today employs more than 450 software development professionals in its development centres of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Bulgaria.
Application development in South Africa is taking a step forward in terms of efficiency and productivity with the announcement of the formation of a joint venture to create “High-Maturity Software Development” (Hi-Mat) units. Under the leadership of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University, and sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Hi-Mat project will create 1 000 new software development jobs over the next three years.
The brainchild of Prof. Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE, the Hi-Mat project is also being run in parallel with a Wits/UCT research project. Dwolatzky explains that the Hi-Mat unit is a software development team of between 10 and 25 people, “capable of delivering quality software projects in a predictable and repeatable way”.
Dwolatzky says the aim is to ensure that the performance of the Hi-Mat units in terms of cost, schedule and defect rate will place them on a par with the best development teams in the world. This will be done by drawing on internationally accepted best practices in software engineering and ensuring the team conforms to them. The way the model works is that Dwolatzky and the sponsoring companies, currently Nedbank and BBD, will select a number of unemployed or under-employed graduates and train them in the appropriate development techniques while placing them in a Hi-Mat unit within a company. The reason for hosting the independent units in a company is to ensure the developers are part of a corporate development environment with access to the normal non-development functions such as HR, payroll, etc.
“These companies already have a pipeline of development projects that the teams can get involved with, plus they have people with specific domain knowledge to assist in delivering what various customers require,” adds Dwolatzky. “Trained in the Team Software Process (TSP), the units will be able to deliver quality projects within 10% of the agreed schedule, within 5% of the approved budget, and having 10 times fewer defects than the accepted industry benchmark of two defects per 1 000 lines of code (KLOC).
“In other words, Hi-Mat units will be significantly better in terms of quality and predictability than any existing software development team in South Africa and on a par with the best in the world.”
The first Hi-Mat team is being hosted within BBD. Dwolatzky is negotiating with other companies to launch another team in Johannesburg, one in Cape Town and a fourth in Durban this year. Once these teams have been through a proof-of-concept period and have proved they can deliver as promised, the project will be expanded and more teams will be formed across the country. “We have an ambitious plan of having 40 to 50 units in operation in three years,” adds Dwolatzky. “The goal is to create 1 000 jobs and not just reassign people already in the development world.”
“With many years of experience in the local software engineering market, BBD recognises the lack of skills in the industry,” says BBD’s CEO, Peter Searle. “Software engineering in South Africa will benefit in the long run as the successful completion of the Hi-Mat pilot would set the stage for creating standards in process improvement and promote the concept of quality software delivery. This 1000 — job strategy gives BBD an opportunity to give back to the industry and advance the quality of South Africa’s software engineers.”