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Education

IT workers need new thinking

by Nicole Wong

Liz Bacon (left), head, School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences, The University of Greenwich; Bernard Chan, programme director, ABRS Professional Learning Services
Photo: Edde Ngan
In spite of the recent economic contraction, Hong Kong's information technology sector is healthy and expanding. But, as the industry grows, it is vital for IT practitioners to accumulate new skills and enhance their industry knowledge.

For some time after the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, many young people were reluctant to enter the profession and this created a shortage of IT professionals, says Bernard Chan, programme director, ABRS Professional Learning Services.

"There's also been a shift in the skills that are requiredĦXfrom programming and technical support to integrated IT and project management abilities. Companies are increasingly exploring how they can apply IT to improve their competitiveness and increase their profits," Mr Chan notes.

To address these needs, ABRS, a leading Hong Kong professional training and higher education organisation, offers a range of computer and information systems programmes in conjunction with the UK-based University of Greenwich. These include a bachelor's degree (with honours) in computing (stage-three entry) programme, and a master's degree programme in information systems management.

Graduates of a one-year, part-time articulated advanced diploma programme can be advanced to the final year study of the BSc programme in computing and may apply for membership of the British Computer Society, a reputable international professional body.

The University of Greenwich takes a proactive approach to ensure that its programme content remains current and relevant to the business context. "Our strong focus is on quality and we provide industry-oriented teaching materials," says Liz Bacon, head, School of Computing & Mathematical Sciences, the University of Greenwich. She adds that all programmes are assessed regularly to make sure that they meet Hong Kong students' specific needs.

As the sector advances, new learning programmes, such as those on "cloud computing" technology will become more popular. "Our academics attend and give presentations at international conferences to keep abreast of industry changes," Dr Bacon points out.

Enhancing expertise

As an operator, ABRS strives to provide the best combination of modules for the Hong Kong market. "Apart from building students' fundamental knowledge, the programmes on offer are designed to broaden their skills, as well as to develop their critical- and analytical-thinking abilities, particularly for the application of IT in a business context," Mr Chan remarks, adding that students also benefit from the university's balanced approach to academic studies and practical research.

"Part of the bachelor's degree requirements, for example, is to complete a project. Past topics included developing a database system for stock market transactions and a mobile application for direction enquiries," he says.

ABRS and the University of Greenwich also target potential students from mainland China. "Although IT professionals on the mainland tend to have good technical skills, they sometimes lack business sensitivity. We therefore see the potential in addressing their needs, by offering training on IT outsourcing skills, project management and strategic planning," notes Dr Bacon.

Most past students have been between 20 and 35 years old and holders of associate degrees, diplomas or higher diplomas, wanting to improve their educational qualifications. "But with industry requirements changing, we now also have a fair number of seasoned professionals seeking bridging programmes to upgrade their credentials and boost their competitiveness," says Mr Chan.

Considering the growing demand for IT practitioners with a higher education, the University of Greenwich and ABRS are now discussing the introduction of an IT related professional doctorate degree to prospective students in Hong Kong, Dr Beacon reveals.

Taken from Career Times 12 November 2010, A11

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