New approach to tackling skills gap in tech industry

Students at City of Glasgow College take action to address skills gap in expanding digital technologies industry.

The students from the college’s Faculty of Education & Humanities were part of a successful pilot programme to develop collaboration between the tech sector and academia, and to address the digital skills gap in Scotland.

Five teams of students took part in the Digital Skills Partnership programme, gaining valuable experience of real-world challenges in the software development process.

The teams came from:

  • City of Glasgow College and University of the West of Scotland
  • Herriot Watt University and Edinburgh College (two teams)
  • Robert Gordon University and North East Scotland College
  • University of Stirling and Forth Valley College

The pilot required each group, all with different levels of experience and expertise, to respond to and deliver a specific industry style brief. Each team received the brief at the end of January and was paired with an academic lead and an industry mentor from either CAS Ltd or CGI UK. The winning team was Edinburgh College and Herriot Watt University who received a prize of £1,000.

Joanna Campbell, Vice Principal of Student Experience at City of Glasgow College, and Chair of the Digital Skills Partnership said:

“It was fantastic to see the level of interest and engagement we had from students during this programme. Those who got involved were keen to improve team working skills and saw an opportunity to gain industry knowledge, broaden their hands-on experience and network.

“The true benefit of the programme is that it offers students an insight that goes beyond what can be taught in a classroom, through responding to a live brief with a multi-skilled team and access to real-world tools. This helps contextualise the learning and illustrate how their tertiary education will translate into the workplace.”

Katie Ballantyne, Curriculum Head for Business Technologies at City of Glasgow College, lead a curriculum development working group with colleagues and partners across the education and tech sectors. She said:

“Our aim was to develop an innovative approach to curriculum development that will ensure graduates are industry ready when entering the workplace. It has been wonderful to see our students so actively engaged in this project. The chance to work with new colleagues on a live brief helped enhance their technical knowledge, and offered the opportunity to develop key employability skills for the tech sector."

Lesley Broadwood, Project Development Manager at ScotlandIS, who rolled out the programme, added:

“It has been great to see how well the pilot has gone for everyone involved. This ground breaking initiative is aimed specifically at making sure our tech graduates are as well-equipped as possible to hit the ground running when they join the workforce. This mixed experience project will help prepare them in a more realistic way for the software development process in industry.”

Chris Ellis, Chief Technical Officer at CAS Ltd, said:

“The Scottish tech sector is always in need of fresh new talent and it is imperative that students are skilled not only technically but have the ability to interpret a brief and work as a team with varying backgrounds to deliver a strong response. The Digital Skills Partnership initiative bridges the gap between hard, technical skills and soft skills like problem-solving, communication and collaboration that are all equally important when putting technical knowledge into real-world practice.

“It will be great to see this scheme rolled out further and see the results of more rounded work-ready recruits filtering through to the benefit of this dynamic and exciting industry in Scotland.”

Supported by Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, the Digital Skills Partnership programme aims to roll the programme out at the start of the next academic year. Please click here for further details and information.