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Author ORCID Identifier

0000-0003-3877-7432

Abstract

SMEs and Enterprise companies are looking for workplace-ready graduates that have already gained a relevant range of skills and knowledge as part of their studies. These include having specific proficiencies as well as a broad understanding of industry, including transferable skills such as self-awareness, critical thinking, teamwork, listening, time management, and leadership [1]. This demand entails a reciprocal relationship between industry and academia, which is one of many aspects that drives the need for solid collaborations between the two sectors [2].

When facing the recruitment process, however, SMEs and Enterprise companies often struggle to match their requirements to the learning outcomes of new graduates applying for positions. Companies are faced with an overwhelming array of degree programmes to engage with, most of which consist of multiple modules and options. Even within the same institute and school, students graduate with the same qualification, but have gone through vastly different pathways and gained a varied experience based on the optional modules they may have taken. Without enough academic knowledge and familiarity and no means to distinguish between these courses and the graduates, the recruitment process for companies must rely heavily on lengthy interview procedures to search for the right graduate with the right experience and transversal skills, a process that can be resource intensive in terms of time and financial cost.

Given that learning trajectories across programmes and curricula are often not visible from an employer perspective some form of mapping of academic curriculum to industry graduate requirements would seem an essential step to help relieve employers, at least partially, from burdensome recruitment procedure [3].

The broad goal of the HubLinked Knowledge Alliance is to strengthen Europe’s software innovation capacity by learning from regions of proven Information Computing Technology (ICT) strength in Europe and Asia and sharing that knowledge with all regions. A key goal of the Alliance was to conduct research on the effectiveness of University-Industry (U-I) collaborations between Computer Science faculties and Companies (including non-ICT companies) as U-I collaborations are understood as a core driver of innovation capacity. In recognising that SMEs and Enterprise companies often struggle to match their graduate requirements to the learning outcomes of new graduates, two key challenges (presented here as fundamental questions) emerged:

  1. How can SME requirements for graduate recruitment be captured in a way that facilitates matching their requirements to academic programmes?
  2. How do you match university programmes from different institution to the industry requirement?

In this paper we present a Curriculum Mapping Framework (CMF) and a Curriculum Mapping Tool (CMT) to address these issues. The CMF encodes the companies graduate attributes into a virtual curriculum after which the CMT maps the virtual curriculum onto specific educational pathway within an academic programme to determine the level of match between the two.

The CMF and the CMT were both designed within the HubLinked Knowledge Alliance [4], a partnership of seven large industry-focused Computer Science Faculties and four Industry partners representing large multinationals, SMEs and start-up companies.

Section two will explore the context that led to the development of the CMF and the CMT. In order to map learning outcomes across different programmes and courses, across different academic award levels and across different institutions, it is necessary to understand the general structure of a programme and how curricula are constructed. Our approach has been strongly inspired by the reports of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) [1] and Bloom’s Taxonomy [5] and by the assumption that multiple pathways are possible within each academic programme, meaning individuals undertaking the same programme gain varied skills depending on the optional modules for which they have opted.

Section three describes in the development of the CMF which provides a mechanism for encoding industry requirements into a curriculum. Qualitative data was collected over a three-year period in the form of interviews with 40 Industry professionals and through organised focus groups with academic partners and stakeholders. Data collection was a central theme at each of the quarterly meetings hosted by each of the project partners who also facilitated the contribution of additional academic staff from outside of the project.

Section four presents the CMT and demonstrates how the mapping process between ICT programmes and the Hublinked curriculum is achieved. The CMT is available on the HubLinked website for download[2]. Observations on the CMF and the CMT including recommendations on its future use are presented in the last sections of this paper.

[1] https://www.acm.org

[2] http://www.hublinked.eu/curriculum-mapping-tool/

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