In February and March 2016, over 100 transition year students from around Munster spent a week with the Business Information Systems (BIS) team in UCC. This initiative – now in its fourth year, has become one of the most sought after TY placements for students considering a career in business and technology.
Two groups of 50 students spent an intensive week at BIS, taking short courses in web design, innovation, programming, business models and a variety of other topics from the cutting edge of business and technology. The program is focused around the development of a business idea, with teams of students using the skills gained during the week to develop and effectively present their business proposition.
According to Bill Emerson, one of the coordinators, “We feel that TY students have a bit of time to look at university courses and get a feel for what university might be like – time that 5th or 6th year students often don’t have. TY is a chance for students to think deeply about the kind of career they might enjoy.”
The need to attract students into this area had been long recognized, as there has been a considerable shortfall in the number of suitably qualified students available to take up careers in the business/ technology sector. For companies like EMC and Microsoft who both employ a large number of Irish graduates, students who have a mixture of technical and business skills are much sought after. Like the food industry in Ireland, the technology sector has undergone tremendous growth and large multinationals in this sector are attracted to Ireland as a European base where they see the availability of suitably qualified graduates a key to their success.
Another challenge for students to overcome is the changing nature of the workplace itself. Graduates no longer can expect a job with a permanent desk in a nice glass building. Companies, as well as employees, are expected to be much more agile, with ‘hot desks’ and ‘virtual meetings’ being very much the norm. Often a graduate will be given a company laptop and a headset, and will be sent off to work on multiple projects in remote locations. This kind of work relies on teamwork, collaboration and a suite of skills that a very much at the heart of the modern job. These skills are what employers refer to as ‘21st Century Skills’. The BIS degree builds these skills into the way we teach and assess our courses, with a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication.
The TY initiative itself, according to Dr. Ciara Heavin of BIS, “aims to give students a taste
of what working in a team in a modern business environment is like, and hopefully opens a few minds to the kind of careers they might like to pursue. It also aims to give students a taste of the BIS degree at UCC, which will hopefully help them to make an informed decision when choosing their eventual third level course.”
The TY programme administrator is Ms. Carole O’ Brien. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.