Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduates and challenges of employability: A conceptual framework for enhancing employment opportunities in South Africa
Graduate unemployment is among the most predominant problems facing South Africa. The underlying assumption is that employability issues have severe implications and have raised unresolved questions about universities’ curriculum, the quality of graduates produced, and their ability to meet the essential demands of employers. This paper probed the development of a framework for addressing the employability of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) graduates. The aim was to explore the issues that ICT graduates are encountering when seeking entrance to the labour market. The paper adopted two framework models by Knight and Yorke (USEM model) and Dacre Pool and Sewell (CareerEDGE Model), supported by a systematic literature review (SLR). The findings revealed that ICT graduates at all levels of qualifications struggle to get jobs, irrespective of their qualifications, due to socio-economic problems resulting in a shortage and non-creation of jobs to accommodate the up-and-coming ICT graduates. As a consequence, these graduates are still vulnerable in the labour market. Several other associated challenges identified in the developed framework were linked to work experience, namely a lack of soft and hard skills and business skills. In spite of these challenges, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have a definitive role to play. One of which is to produce academic graduates with practical skills and traits, coherent knowledge and application in the workspace. The curriculum design should be restructured to align with employers’ skills requirements from ICT graduates. HEIs should ensure that there is proper communication among triad parties and stakeholders through the incorporation of work-integrated learning (WIL) as a best practice for improvement.
Key phrases Employability, hard and soft, HEI, ICT graduates, skill shortage, unemployment