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SAP Partner Talent Initiative

To address the SAP skills gap, SAP has begun a new Partner Talent Initiative intended to select and train new talent and talent already in existence in the SAP ecosystem. This training program has been started specifically to address increased demand for skilled and qualified SAP professionals.

Last week IgniteSAP discussed various methods of getting trained and achieving qualified status as an SAP consultant within the context of SAP GRC software solutions. We pointed out that there was an expanding market for SAP solution specialists, so the investment in SAP training is always going to be worth it, but the cost of SAP training has been a barrier to some who do not have an employer willing to invest on their behalf.

A New Generation of SAP Consultants

This new route for potential SAP professionals to achieve certified status is targeting graduates as a means to accelerate the creation of a new generation of IT consultants with the right skills to implement and configure SAP systems.

The full time curriculum will deliver the knowledge and training to IT professionals so that they can work in areas of SAP that are in high demand, like Rise with SAP and S/4HANA Cloud. Those graduates participating will, on successful completion of the course will then move on to a training program which centres on the necessary professional and personal skills with which SAP consultants must be proficient.

With support and feedback from their instructors and the partner team over the course of the period of training, successful candidates will become fully fledged SAP consultants working at the leading edge of SAP implementation, with product skills and understanding of the wider SAP portfolio.

The course content includes access to live SAP training systems, and the SAP Partner Initiative will fund and award three SAP Global Certifications.

Commenting of the new initiative, Celine Cazali, SAP’s Chief Partner Officer for UK and Ireland said:

“By launching the Partner Talent Initiative, graduates of the programme will learn invaluable skills, helping customers and partners successfully become Intelligent Enterprises and provide high-quality services. Through a rigorous curriculum, combined with continuous feedback and support, our programme will equip the next generation of consultants with the mindset, skills and ambition needed to succeed in the channel and beyond”

The Chairman of UKISUG (UK & Ireland SAP User Group) said:

“We welcome the creation of the Partner Talent Initiative as it will help address a potential skills gap in the future. Our most recent member research highlighted that many organisations are concerned a lack of available skills will impact the speed their organisation moves to SAP S/4HANA. A thriving partner ecosystem with more certified talent will be essential in supporting customers’ SAP S/4HANA journeys and developing the next-generation workforce.”

SAP Drive2Deliver

As well has the Partner Talent Initiative, SAP ensures partners who train and certify new consultants are eligible for a business development fund (BDF) incentive through SAP’s Drive2Deliver partner capacity initiative, as another means to reduce the SAP skills gap.

The Partner Delivery Framework was announced at the SAP Global Partner summit in 2020 and it supports partners to with training resources through Learning Journeys for core SAP solutions.

“The program will help partners address the shortage of IT talent in the industry, focusing on identifying and attracting fresh faces from university and scouting hidden talent to locate and attract seasoned experts. Drive2Deliver also supports partners in up-skilling consultants in cloud technologies.”

Bridging the Skills Gap

What is the primary resource in the IT services industry? Brains.

Commentators in the ERP space have been pointing out the ever-increasing skills gap for years and these moves by SAP are laying the foundations for what will need to be a far more expansive recruitment drive among the new generation.

In the UK the Recruitment and Employment Confederation published a report that shows that programmers and other software professionals are one of the top three areas of skills shortage.

Since the lockdown the value of IT skills has increased exponentially. The Harvey Nash Group’s annual survey of the recruitment market has found organisations are suffering from the lack of skilled IT professionals. Of the organisations who responded to the survey, skills shortages in key areas of ERP were founded to be most acute. 40% reported a lack of skills in the area of data analytics, 34% in technical architects, 32% in Dev Ops and 28% in development. A skills gap was also reported in crucial areas like cloud, enterprise architecture and business analysis.

ERP Degrees and Lifelong SAP Learning

Universities are now running degrees and master’s degrees in ERP, and SAP and their partners are also creating routes for IT consultants to get training and qualifications to tackle the SAP skills gap. More generally, business culture is embracing the concepts of lifelong learning and up-skilling as it costs a business less to train an existing employee for new skills than to onboard an entirely new team member.

In February this year an ASUG survey of businesses and organisations found that 26% of respondents saw SAP skills as their number one challenge. The ASUG CEO Geoff Scott said:

“Business functions come and say, ‘Hey, I need to have all these things done.’ And technology teams say, ‘Well, I don’t have the same skills I used to have.’ And I think it creates a major disruption inside many of our member companies.”

S/4HANA Skills Gap?

In the same survey 49% said that an S/4HANA skills deficit was holding back their migration, and this affected SIs and consultancies too. Scott went on to comment

“We are going to feel the pinch of that skill gap. My word of caution is that as you think about moving to S/4 if you have not already, the ability for you to plan that migration may hit some turbulence related to skill gaps with your external partners. That’s something that you absolutely positively should consider”

Because the deadline to switch to S/4HANA is approaching and vast numbers of companies have yet to migrate, the problem is intensifying and will continue to do so. Adding to this the innumerable shocks to the world economic system and the attending need for every corporation to become more adaptable to sudden change, it is easy to see why we will be reaching a point of such demand for skilled IT professionals that it could become a bidding war for anyone with the most basic set of SAP skills, because the three or four years it takes for an average student to get through university means that we wont be that far off the event horizon of the S/4 deadline.

This is why SAP and its competitors are going to extreme lengths to invest in skilled SAP practitioners. A lack of skilled consultants may in fact be the only thing holding back the expansion of the German giant in the next five years.

Who Pays for Training?

As we have seen, the great SAP education drive is not limited to those who have just graduated from university and there are other routes for existing SAP consultants make the smart move and augment their skills with further in-depth knowledge of S/4HANA and Rise with SAP among other new SAP solutions.

SAP and its partners are attempting to lock in the new workforce to their ecosystem with the SAP Partner Talent Initiative and via other methods, but every workplace and every employer will benefit from a team with a higher skill set. Not only does this result in more and higher value contracts, it also improve employee retention as employees do not have to look elsewhere to find a clear progression in their career path.

The SAP skills gap means it has never been easier to make a business case for further employee training programs and CEOs will be receptive to the concept, HR departments are also amenable to training as part of an on-boarding program, so their is always room to negotiate, particularly if you have someone from the IgniteSAP team on your side.

So if you feel that you cannot invest personally in further SAP training then look around as there are plenty of options, many of which have been laid out in detail in articles by IgniteSAP over the past couple of years.

If you would like to discuss in detail your personal career ambitions in the SAP ecosystem then IgniteSAP can show you the way forward. All you have to do is reach out and contact IgniteSAP