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Investigating the Perception of Stakeholders on Soft Skills Development of Students: Evidence from South Africa

Estelle Taylor
InSITE 2016 , 2016
[The final form of this paper was published in the journal Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning.]
Soft skills are becoming increasingly important and will be critical for success in the Information Systems profession. Employers complain about a lack in soft skills among graduates from tertiary education institutions. No agreement exists about what these skills actually are, which are of importance, and how acquiring these soft skills should be approached in higher education.
The aim of this paper is to research the perceptions of lecturers, industry, and students on soft skills development of students and to identify important soft skills that need to be developed. The paper starts with a problem statement emphasizing the importance of soft skills and the possible lack thereof. This is followed by a literature review, a description of the methodology followed for this research, the results, conclusion, and the references.
The research was done at a university in South Africa. Questionnaires consisting of open questions were distributed to lecturers, industry, and students respectively, and qualitative analysis was done on the results.
Results show that stakeholders feel that soft skills of students are not developed adequately, that there is some uncertainty about who should be responsible for developing soft skills, and that the development of soft skills is seen as a difficult task. A list is compiled of the most important soft skills according to literature, lecturers, industry, and students. This list can be used in further research on the soft skills of IT-students. Recommendations are made for the teaching and learning of soft skills.
soft skills, higher education, information technology, industry

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