South African specific complexities in aligning graduate attributes to employability
South African higher education (HE) cannot be compared to any other country’s HE systems due to the unique political landscape and structural narrative that it has undergone. Subsequent to the reorganisation of HEIs in 2004, a number of complexities arose. These included accessibility to education across race and the alignment of the South African HEIs to global pedagogic benchmarks. With the changing political landscape, transformations within higher education, socio economic inequities and changes in the workplace, researchers failed to cognize the impact of these factors on graduate employability. Changing graduate attributes to align with a decolonised curriculum and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) workspaces were transiently underway when COVID-19 set a new narrative for the future of employability. This paper seeks to identify the impact of workplace changes and its direct influence on successful graduate employment and integration into the HE curriculum. The work environment has cursorily moved from 4IR to an advanced stage of the 4IR, where there is a full emphasis on digitisation, non-localised workspaces and is an ostensible playground for digital natives (Generation Z). This paper provides a systematic review of literature in the South African HE contexts that pertains to graduate attributes for employability within the workplace. The adoption of malleable secondary data will allow for an understanding of the relationship between changing workplace environments and expectations from graduates. This correlation is directly linked to graduate attributes which students need to comply with from year one. The paper will provide context to changes which are required for the future success of graduates, and whether graduate attributes are adequate preparation for employability. A clinical model is recommended with an intervention to manage the risk factors of decolonisation of curriculum, the 4IR and multi-generational workplace and responses to COVID-19.
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