Universities and colleges need to prepare their students for a new world of work. Workplaces are becoming more collaborative, data-driven and agile. Employers are looking for staff who are flexible and have soft skills such as problem-solving and team working.
Educational institutions are increasingly looking to embed these new ways of working into their curriculums, to give graduates a head start in the jobs market.
“Organisations are having to become more agile and rapid in the way they design, develop and deliver new products and services,” says Andy Powell, cloud chief technology officer at Jisc, which promotes the use of digital technology in higher and further education. “Clearly, universities have a role to play in readying students for that new kind of workplace,” he says.
Higher and further education institutions are in the early stages of modernising their approach to studying as they look to equip students with the tools needed to thrive in the modern workplace.
At TEDI-London, a new university of engineering that opens to undergraduates in 2021, learning will be turned on its head.
There will be no lectures and students will pursue their own coursework using an online service called a learning tree. They will connect with subject experts for any queries, but the onus will be on the students to work collaboratively to drive their learning.
The traditional academic programme is being reimagined at the university – a collaboration between King’s College London, UNSW Sydney and Arizona State University – in its quest to turn out a new type of engineering graduate.
“There’s a particular shortage of engineers who have broad skills, who can integrate and who are socially aware. So what we’re trying to do is develop that type of graduate,” says TEDI-London dean and CEO Judy Raper.
“We believe that pedagogy will influence how professionals get those essential skills, such as teamwork, leadership, collaboration and being aware of society and how it behaves. And so we’ve turned the pedagogy upside down,” she says.
Students will learn primarily through designing and making products rather than theoretically. The campus is based at London’s Canada Water and students will build products to help the area’s goal of becoming a tech-enabled smart city.
TEDI-London’s revolutionary approach is a response to the demands of industry, where employers are seeking graduates who can quickly fit into the new ways of working, she says.
Employers are particularly concerned about a lack of relevant skills and experience among new employees. Only 18% of executives interviewed in a survey by Deloitte thought that UK school leavers and graduates have the right digital skills.
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