Our early work

The Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) was established in 2017, with the support of the Scottish Funding Council and Skills Development Scotland, to create a new collaborative partnership between colleges, universities and industry, to ensure that the education system is more aligned to changing skills requirements.

Since then a strategic steering group, consisting of 13 university and college members and an Industry Advisory Group have been established to drive forward the activities of the DSP.

Our early work has involved delivering a series of successful industry engagement events for computing lecturers and initiating a number of discussions with industry around graduate skills needs.

The DSP hosted an industry round table discussion on graduate skills needs in December.  The meeting focused on the technical and interpersonal skills required for graduates entering software development roles. Representatives from Skyscanner, Cooper Software, Aberdeenshire Council, Socitm and the Scottish Government discussed their technical requirements and reached agreement on the most important interpersonal skills needed, which were:

  • team working skills;
  • having a user focus;
  • problem solving skills;
  • possessing a positive, forward thinking attitude;
  • an ability to challenge the status quo and
  • self-awareness.

Representatives went on to discuss what they thought was missing in their new, graduate software developers, making the following observations:

  • that many graduates find it difficult to write succinct project reports;
  • that new graduates often found it difficult to complete projects within short timescales, as they were more used to completing tasks over a term;
  • that students needed to spend far more time writing code to improve fluency in their chosen programming language;
  • a weakness around operations, with few graduates being able to test code sufficiently, deploy it and then ensure that it is running well, using metrics;
  • a weakness around dealing with issues in software once it is deployed and
  • a lack of professionalism.

 

Our priorities in 2018

Discussions also took place with academia and industry in late 2017, with the aim of trying to establish what the partnership’s priorities should be.  As a result, DSP partners reached agreement on their areas of focus for 2018, which are:

  • providing continuing professional development for lecturers;
  • curriculum development;
  • supporting students to make an effective transition in to the world of work and
  • the creation of Scotland-wide computing careers adviser network.

Five short life working groups (SLWG) are currently being formed across the country to address each of the priority areas.  The SLWGs will be comprised of college, university and industry members, with the task of defining the activities that need to be undertaken.

The leads for the SLWGs are:

  1. Dr Sue Engstrand, Subject Network Leader Science, Technology and the Environment at the University of the Highlands and Islands for short duration CPD.
  2. Dr Sally Smith, Dean of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University for longer term forms of CPD.
  3. Joanna Campbell, Vice Principal Student Experience at Glasgow City College and Professor Ian Allison, Dean of the School of Engineering and Computing at the University of the West of Scotland for curriculum development.
  4. Jon Buglass, Assistant Principal Curriculum Design and Development at Edinburgh College, Dr Karen Petrie, Reader and Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching (School of Science & Engineering) and Dr Rachel Menzies, Undergraduate Teaching Lead (Computing) at the University of Dundee for supporting students.
  5. Simon Hewitt, Vice Principal (Curriculum & Attainment) at Dundee and Angus College for the creation of a computing careers adviser network.

 

If you would like to contribute to any of the five work streams outlined above, please contact Lesley Broadwood, Digital Skills Partnership Project Development Manager: Lesley.Broadwood@scotlandis.com by 30th March 2018.