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Tackling the skills gap – Manchester awarded funding for innovative software engineering course

The University of Manchester is developing a new software engineering course that will help fill a skills gap in the IT sector whilst encouraging lifelong, flexible learning for those already in work.

The ‘Agile Software Engineering’ course is designed and delivered in collaboration with IBM, Fuzzy Labs and The Startup Factory, ensuring it meets needs of potential employers. It is funded by the Office for Students (OfS) who awarded £2 million to 22 higher education providers that were successful in a short course trial competition. It forms part of the government’s approach to deliver its new Lifelong Learning Entitlement and help learners gain skills sought after by employers.

The course is being developed by Academic Lead Dr Suzanne Embury and her team in the University’s Department of Computer Science. What makes it stand out is that it helps learners to take the next steps from a coding bootcamp to a career in software engineering, without having to commit to a full computer science degree. By delivering the skills needed to turn ideas into high quality software, this course addresses a growing employer demand for software engineers.

The standalone course offers students the flexibility to fit learning around their personal schedules or existing careers with the option to study part-time and remotely. Modules will be adapted using a blended and flexible model to allow self-paced and self-directed learning, balanced with personalised support from expert teaching staff.

Exploring how courses can be delivered in new ways to enable lifelong learning is a key priority for the University. Professor Danielle George, Associate Vice President for Blended and Flexible Learning: “With an everchanging job market, we want to offer learners the opportunity to upskill and reskill throughout their careers, in a way that works for them. Traditional full-time courses can be difficult to access for many, including those with certain disabilities, existing careers, or caring responsibilities. While on-campus learning will always be at the heart of our University, we’re also looking at expanding pathways into higher education, from bite-sized chunks of learning to full modular, stackable degrees.”

Dr Suzanne Embury added: “The Agile Software Engineering course is a fantastic example of how in-demand skills can be delivered in a flexible way and I’m thrilled it was selected as part of the short course trial. We’re hoping to learn from and build on this success to offer new pathways into many different subject areas in the future.”

Matt Squire, CTO and co-founder of Manchester-based machine learning operations company Fuzzy, said: “As a fast-growing tech company, we’re always looking for talented graduates to join us. By emphasising the methods and tooling that real software companies use every day, the short course in Agile Software Engineering provides students with experience working on realistic software engineering projects, and encourages students from a variety of backgrounds to learn valuable skills that can be put to use in the industry. The kind of flexible route into education offered by this scheme is something that will benefit the whole industry.”

Learners on the course will also be eligible to apply for paid work as software developers with Imago, the University of Manchester’s student software company, giving them the chance to combine their learning with practical CV-boosting experience.

The course is expected to open for recruitment in June 2022, and to open for enrolment from September 2022.

Contact Suzanne Embury ([email protected]) for more information, or visit https://agile.cs.manchester.ac.uk/ofs-short-course-trial-project.

Source: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/ University of Manchester

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