Sandwich Year Placements Within The Computing Industry: Issues And Solutions

One of the key employability aims I have for the courses and modules that I’m responsible for is to allow students the greatest possible chance to obtain a high quality career within the Computing discipline. I particularly favour encouraging students to take an industrial sandwich year placement, to build up work experience and to capture valuable contacts within employment.

Finding out how well universities and higher education institutions across the UK are doing to help students with their placement experience has been a key part of the “Improving Industrial Sandwich Year Placements” research that I’ve been involved with. This talk summarises some of the main findings.

The presentation took place at the Embracing Employability Through Placements In Higher Education Conference, held at the University of Huddersfield. The slides, hosted on SlideShare account for Thomas Lancaster, are included here.

Whilst many of the findings should not come as a great surprise, it is the good practice going on across the sector that most stands out to me. Some of the innovations, such as peer support of placement students, and providing internal opportunities for employment and to develop entrepreneurial skills, are ones that we should be focusing on across the sector.

Measuring The Extent Of Online Placement Resources To Support Computing Students

As part of a wider research project looking into Computing placements and employability, Nzinga Deenah and I conducted an investigation looking at the availability of resources online to support placement students across the sector.

The argument was that by advertising these resources online, Higher Education Institutions were helping to promote and market their courses and the opportunities that they provide to their students.

The slides can be accessed in my SlideShare account (Thomas Lancaster on SlideShare), but I’ve also embedded them here for ease of reference.

One observation we did make is that many placement resources end up being private. It would be good to see increased sharing and reuse across the sector and that is something which we can all work towards.

Developing Your Digital Presence For Academics

Here’s a slideshow for material presented by Alex Spiers at a seminar at Liverpool John Moores University recently.

It’s all about how academics and researchers can develop their own digital presence.

The area is of particular interest to me as I’m running a workshop on Professional Presences For Academics at Birmingham City University in May.

Alex’s take is very different to how I would present this and the focus is on different areas, but the talk definitely covers one of the main challenges for academics, which is to be visible, and to think about research as being something more than dry papers and conference talks.

How To Get Your CV In The Bin

Here’s an interesting article provided by the HEA and based on the experiences of a real (but anonymous) recruiter.

Unlucky 13 – 13 Reasons Why I Binned Your CV

It goes through the problem of taking 114 applications and having to get down to a shortlist of 20 as quickly as possible.

I’ve certainly spotted many of these problems with CVs, so this could be usefully used as a “checklist” to ensure that the CV passes the “bin test” used by many recruiters.

Why The Computing Discipline Cares About Sandwich Year Placements

Over the past year, I’ve been involved with the biggest research project I’ve participating in since completing my PhD.

I say “involved”, as this for research I’ve been in charge of a small team of two Research Associates looking into the issues surround Sandwich Year Placements within the Computing discipline. This has been a 15 month study funded by the Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Grant scheme.

We’re now approaching the time when the research results can be officially released for the first time. Again, I say “officially” as we’ve factored in several types of dissemination into this project to ensure that as many people are as aware of the findings as possible. And, we’ve delivered talks presenting some of the results from the early parts of the research.

We will shortly be holding workshop at BCU presenting the results (you can view details of the workshop here and you can also access a News item provided by Birmingham City University here). The research will also be available in the form of a Final Report and several papers have already been produced relating to this.

The Computing Discipline is starting to care about Sandwich Year Placements.

These are valuable for students as they provide a year of work experience, they mean exposure to a real company working on real-life problems and they allow students to develop the type of skills that would be impossible within the classroom.

There are outstanding problems.

Not every student wants to take a placement, even when they know about the benefits. And, there are not always enough suitable placement positions available for students.

These are all issues that the Computing sector needs to address.

As part of the research sector, we’ve identified several solutions and pockets of good practice into placements and employability that are being used across the country. We’ve also been able to quantify how well we are doing as an academic discipline. All those results will be discussed at the workshop.

The main take home idea is that we can do more to get students into placements. That way, they get to take advantage of all the many benefits and they become a more employable student by the end of what would now be a full four year degree.

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