While the universities are providing the students with an excellent theoretical base, they come short on imparting the practical ICT skills – a critical prerequisite for the job market.
It’s not always easy for South African ICT graduates to secure jobs on completion of their degrees at universities dotted across the country.
This makes most of these students feel robbed by the tertiary education system, mostly spanning up to four years. After amassing all the theoretical knowledge, hoping it would be their stepping stone into the professional IT world, most graduates are still lurking on the peripheries of the job market with no clue of what will happen next to their lives.
“The problem is that in the job market, you don’t employ individuals for their qualifi cations but for their skills,” says Carl Raath, technical director at ICT training solutions provider, Torque IT. “I am always surprised to learn how many of these delegates have graduated from universities and colleges and have achieved degrees and diplomas in IT.
“These youngsters have already attended training programmes, and received certifi cation in the form of a degree or diploma in IT and they are all extremely disillusioned at the fact that they cannot fi nd meaningful employment, even with their qualifi cation.”
Raath believes that though the varsities are doing a splendid job in providing the students with a theoretical base, they come short on imparting the practical ICT skills – a critical prerequisite for the job market.
“The curricula at the universities need to be inclusive of the technologies that are in the market,” says Raath. “There are virtually no practical implementations at the universities, as the students simply get information from academics who do not have the practical skills.”
He explains that during his grandparent’s time, one graduated from school and then ideally studied a degree at a university, got a junior job, gained workplace experience and worked oneself up through the ranks.
“It was not that different for my parents and so it is only logical that they would take the same approach with their children and so on and so forth.
“The reality is that the world of work has changed dramatically and in IT the change has been exponential. What networking, security, unifi ed communications, data centre, virtualisation, server administration, database, developer jobs existed in my grandfather’s working career?”
Raath points out that the world has changed and yet, as a society, we approach education in IT in the traditional manner and then we wonder why our approach is not working. Millions of rands and infi nite hours are wasted on antiquated academic studies that are irrelevant to the workplace. This will not change unless the people who are responsible get with the times, he adds.
Nonetheless, Raath says, universities are not the only solution for students wishing to pursue ICT career paths. Every year SA produces about 170 000 matriculants and the local universities only have the capacity to enrol 130 000, leaving a huge number of those who fail to secure a place, he explains.
An institute like Torque IT, he says, is well placed to facilitate the development of core skills and expertise, as required by the ICT sector both locally and abroad.
“The custodians of many of the academic programmes aren’t even aware of the gap that exists between their curriculum and the reality in the workplace. So many programmes are purely theoretical and the content so outdated that graduates have not had any exposure to actually doing the work. That is why I refer to all of our programmes as skills development, enablement and certifi cation programmes.”
He elaborates that all Torque IT courses include theoretical, instructor-led training, which is then followed by the practical implementation thereof.
CARL RAATH, TORQUE IT
“Our practical exercises are performed on real equipment and this provides our clients with a far more well-rounded understanding of the topic in question than a simple lecture in principles and concepts ever could. Our curriculum is created by the technology vendors themselves and is constantly evolving to ensure that it is always aligned with the latest technology and best practises.”
“Our instructors are not professors but they are experienced and are experts in their specifi c fi elds. Our instructor certifi cation process is so stringent that our clients are guaranteed that the person standing in front of the classroom is capable of performing the practical tasks as well as articulating the theoretical concepts in an engaging and comprehensible manner.
“The certifi cations that are associated with our programmes are not our own in-house certifi cations that we have dreamt up or loosely aligned with some or other body that is equally out of touch with reality. Our examinations, and associated certifi cations, are formulated and endorsed by the international technology vendors themselves and this means that these certifi cations are recognised by industry as demonstrating one’s knowledge and verifi able skills,” Raath concludes.