Career aspirations and skills expectations of undergraduate IT students: Are they realistic?.

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Curriculum Transformation Vol. 40

June, 2017, 455 pages
Published by
Ruth Walker & Simon Bedford

Attending university can assist students to make informed and realistic choices regarding their career. However developing a student’s career aspirations, goals, and expectations is a complex and discipline-specific process. In Information Technology (IT) no clear career development pathway is evident in the literature despite recent efforts by employers, educators and professional societies to help students improve their career expectations and employability upon graduation. This study aims to better understand the career aspirations and expectations of tertiary IT students, so that future curriculum and career development activities are better aligned with their beliefs and needs. An exploratory mixed method study captured students’ career aspirations and skills expectations over two phases.  A qualitative inquiry in 2014 (n = 306 students) followed by a quantitative study in 2015 (n = 159 students) delved into the aspirations of IT students. Across both phases students reported similar skills they expect to build during their time at university, as well as comparable ways in which they plan to progress towards career and skill building. Overall, the results indicate that students have varied career aspirations and while realistic, the criteria they have regarding achievement of their career goals are not clear. This may highlight issues with students setting realistic expectations in the career development process.

Keywords: career development, information technology, employability

Career aspirations and skills expectations of undergraduate IT students: Are they realistic?.

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McKenzie, S., Coldwell-Neilson, J. & Palmer, S.