There is a shortage of information systems (IS) professionals in South Africa. This IS skills shortage is growing, as attempts to reduce the scarcity of IS skills through (i) ICT-enabled education-focussed development and (ii) IS education initiatives are not increasing IS skills levels in South Africa fast enough to keep up with global growth trends in IS skills. The South African demand for tertiary-level IS skills continues to outgrow the supply.
This study aims to explain the nature of this skills shortage, and to address this shortage by finding ways to increase the quantity and quality of students enrolling for and graduating in IS [and IS-related] graduate courses at tertiary education institutions in South Africa. This study, in three sequential parts, finds (i) ways to improve the impact and sustainability of existing ICT-enabled education-focussed development projects, (ii) reasons and solutions for the lack of tertiary level IS students (and graduates) from a human capacity-building perspective, and (iii) meaningful results from two case study projects engaged in by the researcher that suggest short transition and reskilling courses as a workable solution to the mentioned skills shortage.
The findings from these three parts lead to practical considerations for South African IS departments, informed by a graduate development framework, that will guide IS departments towards optimising the quality and quantity of tertiary-level IS students in South Africa. The resulting framework, the IS Graduate Development Framework, includes a sensitivity towards increasing the employability and entrepreneurial potential of IS students. The results from using the framework as measuring tool include several new insights regarding the kind of IS development project [or course] that best facilitates the development of more high-quality, industry-ready IS graduates, and lead to practical improvements in existing IS courses at a local university. These improvements include the development of a mobile application, as part of one of the case study projects, to facilitate higher levels of industry involvement, sufficient information delivery, changing popular perceptions of IS, and long-term relationships with students that can be used to motivate student career choice.