This week, colleagues from the University of Bath will be presenting our joint paper at the IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON 2020), presenting some of the outputs from the Institute of Coding (IoC), a major national initiative launched in 2018, with funding from the Office for Students and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The IoC is a large national consortium of educators, employers and outreach organisations that is committed to co-developing new courses and activities that will help a larger and more diverse group of learners into digital careers.
This paper introduces the Institute, its academic and industry partners, as well as its key workstreams, activities and outputs; this paper builds on work presented at CEP2019, as well as relating to some of our previous work on introductory programming in computer science degree programmes.
The Institute of Coding: A University-Industry Collaboration to Address the UK’s Digital Skills Crisis
James H. Davenport, Tom Crick and Rachid Hourizi
The Institute of Coding (IoC) is a new £40m+ initiative by the UK Government to “transform the digital skills profile of the country”. In the context of widespread national and international educational and economic policy interventions, it responds to the apparently contradictory data that the United Kingdom (UK) has a digital skills shortage across a variety of sectors, yet its higher education system produces computing graduates every year who end up unemployed, or underemployed. The Institute is a large-scale national intervention to address some of the perceived issues with formal educational routes versus industry-focused skills and training, for example: technical skills versus “soft” or “work-ready” skills; industry-readiness versus “deep education”; inclusion and diversity of the current and future technical workforce; and managing expectations for the broad digital, data and computational skills demands of employers across a wide range of economic sectors. Alongside these activities at the higher education-industry interface, we have also seen substantial computer science curriculum reform across the four nations of the UK. In this paper, we outline the background, evidence base and rationale for the IoC (especially within the complex UK policy context); its key themes, current activities and outputs; as well as anticipate its likely impact over the coming years. Furthermore, we reflect on the potential replicability of aspects of the Institute (and related initiatives in the UK) to other nations or regions with similar ambitions to address the “digital skills crisis”.
Keywords: Digital skills, Software engineering, Programming, Undergraduate education, Graduate education, Computer science education, Industry collaboration
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