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Vocational computing skills and social science students – do they mix?: some evidence from an interdisciplinary degree programme

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The development of transferable skills in undergraduate degrees has been a focus of attention in British universities for some years. Little attention has been paid to the extent to which social science and humanities students, who are deemed to possess good generic transferable skills, might develop vocationally-related technical skills and whether this is desirable. A survey of 42 graduates from the BSc (Hons) Information Technology & Society degree at the University of Portsmouth, most of whom had social science backgrounds and qualifications, but little or no computing experience prior to entering university, found that these students not only successfully acquired computing skills, but that most subsequently found IT-related employment. The paper explores the issues this raises in the context of the vocational versus non-vocational skills debate and the perceived requirements of employers in the twenty-first century, concluding that whilst interdisciplinary degrees have much to commend them, effective and vocationally relevant education can only marginally compensate for wider structural economic problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Vocational Education & Training
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

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