THE SOFTWARE ENGINEERING COURSE & ITS SKILLS DEVELOPMENT COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVE BETWEEN THE CAPE PENINSULA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, THE INDUSTRY AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

N. Mlitwa1, T. Marambire2

1University of Zululand (SOUTH AFRICA)
2Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) (SOUTH AFRICA)
This paper reports on a study into the software Engineering (SE) skills development collaborative initiative between the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the Local Government of the Western Cape and the local software development industry – in the form of an internship programme. The provincial government of the Western Cape together with the industrial Sector and tertiary Institutions are taking collaborative efforts to develop relevant SE skills through structured curricula with a balance between theory and practice through internship programs. Despite the nobility of this effort , it became unclear whether it was achieving intended outcomes. Thus, an exploratory study was conducted to understand the content and structure, the roles and objectives of the central stakeholders, as well as the impact and effectiveness of the internship collaborative initiative in the region. Therefore, an interpretive approach – using the qualitative research methods was adopted to conduct this exploratory investigation. In this process, a purposive sampling technique was used to select participants among employers from chosen companies in Cape Town, South Africa. The main question was “What is the efficacy of the internship component of the SE sector in the Western Cape?” The Actor Network Theory (ANT) was adopted and used as an analytical framework for the phenomenon of study, and for the contextualisation of the findings.

The findings confirmed a severe shortage of skills in the Software Engineering (SE) sector in the Western Cape. It seems companies have lost on a number projects because of the lack of skilled personnel, a trend which has seen an increase in the rate of skills outsourcing as an alternative. However, most companies are employing inexperienced graduates, with a huge gap in terms of expected skills and what the graduates can offer. The findings also reflect a gap between the expectations of universities and those of the industry. Companies are moving at the pace in which technology innovates, whereas universities are moving at a syllabus pace. As a recommendation then, communication line between universities and SE industry should be enhanced. Even if universities do not want to be dictated by the industry, technology innovations should be allowed to set the pace. Companies should be consulted by universities when syllabuses are prepared. This may help to forge consensus, and help to close the skills gap that currently exists when interns join the field of operation. This was, tertiary institutions can also review and change their syllabus at the right time, focusing more on what is required in the field of operation. Informative seminars for students are also encouraged. Students should be encouraged to join memberships of such valuable groups. This will also facilitate networking and help update graduates on newly emerging technologies and trends currently in use in the SE industries. Getting dedicated resources that will work with the graduates directly rather than use the graduates for other tasks is also encouraged.