The graduate employability of ICT graduates.
Skills development is a catalyst that can ensure economic growth in South Africa. However, this development needs to be aligned with industry requirements to ensure that appropriately skilled individuals embark on their careers with confidence and are able to contribute positively to the economy. Information communication technology’s (ICT's) ubiquity across all sectors of the economy has spurred demand for skills in this sector. Hence, it is important that graduates possess the necessary knowledge and skills to contribute to the company and economy in the shortest possible time frame. Whilst effort is focused on skills development strategies and policies, there is little evidence to suggest that these efforts produce the desired results of employable graduates. This has raised the question, “Do ICT graduates possess the employability characteristics that are desired by industry?” The aim of this study was to explore the graduate employability of ICT graduates with specific reference to the software development industry. Furthermore, the study aimed to establish whether the Sector Skills Plan of the Sector Education and Training Authority is aligned with the requirements of the software industry. Due to the expert input required in a study of this nature, a qualitative study was adopted which focused on data collection from experts. These individuals were responsible for their company’s graduate programme, which distinguished them as ideal sources of data that could be collected via interviews. Ten companies that employ ICT graduates in their graduate programme were purposefully selected to achieve the study’s objectives. The data collectively led to the conclusion that the graduates do not display the employability characteristics desired by industry. Although they possessed a sound theoretical foundation, they lacked the practical and skills components viewed as fundamental requirements in industry. This was also exaggerated by the graduates’ dearth of soft skills. However, the data analysis also highlighted the lack of collaboration between government and industry that further exacerbated the graduates’ inability to function effectively in industry. These findings culminated in several recommendations to ensure proper alignment and implementation of skills development and training strategies to produce well rounded graduates possessing the key requirements of industry. Underpinning these recommendations is the need for further collaboration between industry, government and the universities.
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