Investigating vocational courses for digital industries

Published: 14 Nov 2014

Author: Karen Scott
Investigating vocational courses for digital industries

Karen Scott, a lecturer in computing at Mid Kent College in Medway, has recently spent five weeks visiting colleges in Scotland, Denmark and Japan to discover how the relationship between college and industry affects the way students learn, what they learn and how their learning might be assessed.

Funded by a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, Karen was able to visit nine colleges in the three countries, exploring how student experience is enriched by the interaction between their learning in college and representatives of the industries they intend to work in.

Due to the intellectual skills required for a career in the digital industries, Karen wanted to focus on college courses that were vocational and on which the majority of students intended to progress straight into the workplace but that, for some students, would provide them with a qualification suitable for entry into university without further study. 

In Scotland, Karen learned about three innovative schemes at colleges of further education: a two year bespoke HND apprenticeship programme with a Scottish banking group; a Knowledge Transfer Hub building relationships between local employers and the college; and Education into Enterprise which facilitated work-based projects.

In Denmark, Karen learned about EUX Data Technician, a five year programme on which students study a vocational curriculum course, alongside a general education. Students spend a year in college then blocks of work-based learning alternating with college-based learning, resulting in students who graduate with highly developed industry skills and an education at a level suitable for university entry. 

In Japan, Karen visited the national programming competition, a high profile competition for students of kōtō-senmon-gakkō  (kosen) colleges of technology.  Kosen students experience a combination of general and vocational engineering education for a period of five years.  Kosen educate around 1% of Japan’s young people and, such is their reputation, there is strong competition between companies to employ graduates.  There are, on average, fifteen to twenty potential job offers for every graduate.

Karen is using what she has learnt in the development of employment related activities for her own students and in the development of a new HND course to start next year. 

“The digital industries are inherently global and I found that colleges were keen for their students to get international, as well as industry, experience,” she said.

Karen has started to investigate and plan a student exchange programme to include language learning, industry visits, college-based experience and, where appropriate, internships.

Contact Karen: karsco73@gmail.com

Notes to Editors

We formed an Educational partnership with The Mercers’ Company to jointly fund ten Fellowships a year from 2013-2015, to develop linked projects to improve the educational achievement of young people aged 5-19, with particular emphasis on English, Maths, Science and Technology. The Mercers’ Company is closely involved with the running of seventeen schools across the country and makes a number of grants to improve the availability and quality of education for children and young adults, focused on young people from the ages of 5-25.