Attacking the soft skills gap by placing industrial internships on a new footing in our Computer Science curriculum

How to close the soft skills gap for our Computer Science graduates by broadening our collaborative activities with the local IT industry and placing industrial internships on a new footing.

Elpida Keravnou-Papailiou
University of Cyprus

Background and Objectives
The Department of Computer Science of the University of Cyprus (CS-UCY) admitted its first undergraduate students in September 1992, as one of the first departments of the University; its curriculum was the first such university-level programme offered in Cyprus. So far CS-UCY has graduated more than 1500 students (undergraduate, Master and doctoral students) and currently it has the largest intake (78 students) amongst the undergraduate programmes of the University. From the very beginning, CS-UCY had set as one of its major goals to contribute towards the development and modernization of the local IT industry, and for the given industry to impact back on it in return. Although numerous other CS curricula are now on offer in Cyprus, and many Cypriot students acquire such qualifications abroad, it is gratifying that our graduates are highly competitive in the local labor market. However, following interactions within our network of collaborating companies it transpires that the soft skills of our graduates need enhancement. Closing the skills gap has therefore been set as a key strategic objective, in order to sustain and strengthen our competitive advantage in the labor market. Our efforts in this respect are facilitated by the facts that: (i) key personnel of major companies (including CEOs) are themselves graduates of CS-UCY, (ii) graduates of CS-UCY have themselves established successful companies, training and/or employing fellow students, (iii) CS-UCY had a major role in the modernization of the secondary schools’ IT curriculum, and many IT school teachers are graduates of CS-UCY.