Conference paper

The Institute of Coding Accreditation Standard: Exploring the Use of a Professional Skills Framework to Address the UK Skills Gap

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Computing comprises a broad spectrum of subjects and specialisms, with a rich variety of undergraduate courses (including Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Information Systems, Information Technology and Software Engineering) offered by universities worldwide. This breadth presents challenges for employers considering employing computing graduates and hence desiring to know both the topics studied and the skills/competencies accumulated by graduates to be able to make appropriate job offers. Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) may not have the resources to provide graduate training programmes, and therefore need gwork-ready' graduates. This paper explores and evaluates the feasibility of benchmarking students' achievements against an industry-led skills framework, Skills for the Information Age (SFIA), to distinguish between what graduates know, have done or are competent in. The approach taken was evolutionary prototyping, informed by expert review. The work generated an accreditation standard that could be implemented or used as a model to enhance an existing accreditation standard. In contrast to academic approaches to competency-based education, or abstract notions of generic skills, this work focused on defining an output standard expressed in terms of employer needs and expectations captured in the SFIA skills framework. We show how a course meeting the proposed standard would satisfy the UK benchmarks for an undergraduate computing degree. By badging SFIA knowledge and competencies, such a course would enhance its learning outcomes, offering clarity for employers and career benefits to students.