The independent Shadbolt Review into Computer Sciences Degree Accreditation and Graduate Employability was published this week, and drew broad support to its findings.
The report, written by Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, had the support of a committee of industry experts and higher education specialists.
Large employers including HP, IBM, Konetic, Network Rail, and Skyscape served on the committee as did Tech Partnership CEO Karen Price. The report’s ten recommendations range across a number of issues, but focused mainly on improving the employability of graduates in Computer Science, following a growing concern that the discipline has the highest level of unemployment of any subject grouping, at around 10%.
‘Education must be broad’
The report goes heavy on the need to provide a broad education for computer science students. “The employment landscape for Computer Science graduates is extremely heterogeneous,” said Sir Nigel in his introduction to the report. “IT and computing underpins so many aspects of business across all sectors and at all scales.”
Alistair Wood of John Lewis, and chair of the Tech Partnership degree apprenticeship employer group, endorsed the need for an inclusive approach to tech education. “In the tech sector, successful careers are built on high quality technical skills, and also on an ability to see a problem in the round and work with colleagues to solve it.
“Employers are keen to work with universities to accredit courses, provide work experience opportunities and develop employability skills. Over the last year more than 60 employers and 20 universities have collaboratively developed Tech Partnership accredited degree apprenticeships combining academic learning and on-the-job training,” he said.
Tech Partnership CEO Karen Price welcomed the report, say “Employers are coming together through the Tech Partnership to pool their knowledge and expertise across all aspects of tech education, building a model that demonstrably creates better outcomes for students. In addition to degree apprenticeships, the Partnership’s IT Management for Business and Software Development for Business degrees are closely informed by employer requirements, and as a result almost all students go straight into employment or further study. Just as importantly, the Tech Partnership’s work in schools and in careers guidance is filling the pipeline with keen and well prepared young people, of both sexes, who are enthusiastic about the prospects of a career in technology.”
The view from academia was also supportive. Professor Paul Lewin, Head of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, said: “The Review’s emphasis on work experience and the real-world application of the skills that students are learning is very much in line with our own teaching practice and the quality of our student experience here in Southampton.”