Creating the IT professionals of tomorrow

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Students at four universities working with e-skills UK have embarked on an innovative new degree this term; the Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) BSc (Hons). Today marks the start of a series of inspirational business lectures by industry thought-leaders, demonstrating the engagement of employers including BT, Computer Associates, Ford, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Norwich Union.

Combining academic learning and industry-related content, the degree is running at The University of Greenwich, The University of Reading, The University of Central England in Birmingham and Northumbria University this year.

These degrees have been created in response to industry leaders demands for graduates who can fast-track into business-oriented IT professional roles.

Karen Price CEO of e-skills UK stated: The changing IT skills landscape means that the IT professionals and managers of the future need more than ever to bridge the gap between business and IT. They require a combination of business, project, and interpersonal skills as well as technical competencies. By working in partnership with employers and universities, we have created a degree framework that brings together this blend of capabilities, with a strong focus on team work and managing real projects. These degrees will help high-achieving students fast-track into exciting careers in IT or business, and will help employers who need new recruits to contribute to the business more quickly.

Employment in the IT industry is forecast to grow at 5 to 8 times the average UK employment growth over the next 10 years[1]. Employers have a strong preference for experienced professionals and graduates to fill new roles. This growing demand for graduates, combined with demand for a different type of skills mix, underpins the need for these new degree courses. Indeed, employers are directly engaged in ITMB throughout the course, offering input on content as well as a series of inspirational keynote business lectures by industry thought-leaders.

The first Business Guru lecture on the topic of Technology-led Business Change will be delivered today at The University of Greenwich, by Chris Winter, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Member of IBM Academy of Technology.

Chris commented: For IBM it wasnt simply about contributing to the discussion around the degree, it was important that we had a key role in ensuring it was delivered on the ground level. As a company, we want to recruit the business leaders of the future and that means re-evaluating traditional concepts of educating IT managers.

Differentiating itself from computer science or pure business degrees, the learning outcomes of the ITMB degree are evenly balanced between business understanding, technology and its application to business, implementation of projects to satisfy business requirements and personal / interpersonal skills.

Karen continued: With this new degree, we want to ensure that all future IT professionals and managers understand the intertwining of IT strategy and business strategy and are equipped to lead IT enabled change. The immediate benefit for employers is that new graduates can hit the ground running when they arrive at work and be productive much more quickly. The immediate benefit for graduates is that they get that employability factor that they need in todays competitive market.

Sir Howard Newby, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) agreed: HEFCE is very pleased to actively support this programme. It is exciting to see universities working with a collaboration of employers in this way to offer courses that are in tune with the changing needs of industry, and that will help attract and prepare highly motivated students for leading edge careers in technology and business.

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