Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Student Marketability: Enhancing Software Skills

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Student Marketability: Enhancing Software Skills

Article excerpt

Introduction

Number of students graduating from higher learning institutions (HLI) is increasing every year. They are equipped with knowledge in their field, to enter the workplace. The knowledge includes also how the climates in the industries are, and their expectations from the individuals. In the workplace, the graduates are expected to perform what they have learnt in the HLI (Zulikha & Ariffin, 2005). This will not only be the subject matter contents, but also the soft skill parts such as interpersonal skills, maturity, and ability to perform in various situations. This is the cycle a graduate has to be prepared with.

In HLI, students are provided with contents. HLIs target to equip their graduates with as many knowledge as possible, by providing resources such as qualified instructors, timely technologies, and infrastructures. However, the semester system limits the contents that a course instructor is able to deliver. In computing courses, contents are divided into theory and practical. Theory part could be taught in classrooms, while the practical part requires hands-on approach in computer labs. Instructors will not have enough time to teach the practical parts. As results to this, students will have good knowledge on theories, but lack the skills in practicing their theories (Knight & Yorke, 2004). This then decreases the graduates' confidence and motivations in applying their knowledge. This does not help the graduates to market themselves in the industries, because the industries expect skills from the graduates (Tucker, Sojka, Barone, & McCarthy, 2000).

This paper discusses about enhancing students' skills in the practical part so that students are more exposed to skills of employability (Watts, 2006). The previous paragraphs discuss about the trends of teaching scenarios in HLI, and potential dilemmas faced by the HLI in tailoring their computing students. Next, this paper discusses about an initiative planned and run to provide HLI students with enhanced skills. The project was organized by innovative content and application group (iCAAP) (at College of Arts and Sciences, Universiti Utara Malaysia--UUM CAS), which focused on training students to use 3D-animation software. This is also in line with supporting the government of Malaysia which is urging the initiatives in content creation (NITC Malaysia, 2009). The model of the program is provided next, followed with a description on its implementation. Then, some outcomes of the program are addressed.

In line with the growing current technological infrastructure especially the Internet and broadcasting, content has been a need. So, efforts in creating contents should be encouraged. Contents could be developed for various applications such as entertainment, business, and advertisement. This program was organized based on the listed justification:

1. Training by an instructor from the industry on 3D software discloses the needs and desires of the industries from the employees.

2. It increases the Trainees' skills in using 3D software, which will interest the employers to employ the trainees.

3. Trainees will have their own portfolio containing the artifacts they created in the program, which will be good to carry as references.

4. This program is able to create relationship and tighten the existing relationships between the university and the industry. Moreover, from the relationship, diplomatic co-operation could be established.

The program was called iCAAPCamp--because the trainees spent more than 12 hours daily in the computer lab. Trainees were required to be in the lab from 9am to 5am only, but they spent extra hours on their own efforts. The camp was run in two weeks comprising 14 working days. They were off on Friday. Accommodation, Food and beverages, fees, and other benefits were provided by iCAAP, which means trainees did not have to pay for the camp. …

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