WRIPA & SEPnet Joint Workshop – Physics-Industry Collaboration: Aligning Student Skills with Local Economic Needs – 25 July, IOP London

50 academics, employers and career professionals came together to share good practice on embedding employability skills in physics courses at WRIPA & SEPnet’s 2nd annual workshop chaired by Professor Sir William Wakeham.

Brooke Storer-Church of Office for Students highlighted the mis-match between the supply and demand for skills in the UK. IOP’s new degree accreditation criteria will focus less on core content and more on skills development. This offers physics departments greater flexibility in the design of physics courses and can help to bridge the skills gap.

Students need to develop self-management and independent thinking to ‘flex’ into different careers. Placements offer opportunities to build skills but many students fear failing so may not have the confidence to apply. As an alternative, embedded bite-sized work experience can build confidence and resilience while assessed real-world industrial projects can engage students and develop entrepreneurship.

Mobility can be an issue with 45% of graduates choosing to stay in the region after graduation. More therefore needs to be done to build links with local employers to develop graduate opportunities. Industry advisory boards which include local employers can provide physics departments with input into courses as well as opportunities to address regional skills needs.

You can view the presentations from the workshop here: Dr Brooke Storer-Church, Officer for Students      Robyn Henriegel and Amy Pearce, IOP         Dr Alastair  Buckley, University of Sheffield         Professor Manus Hayne, Lancaster University       Amy Hearst, vivaMOS Ltd           Danny Atkins, University of Portsmouth       Trevor Farren, University of Nottingham Part 1          Trevor Farren, University of Nottingham Part 2