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Title: An investigation into how the Science and Engineering curriculum in higher education institutions supports undergraduates entering the Testing and Certification industry in Hong Kong upon graduation
Author: Tang, W. F. F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9347 2460
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2019
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Employability skills and graduate competencies are the issues that continue to dominate discourse surrounding the higher education labour market. One of the key industries in which this discussion has been conducted in Hong Kong is the Testing and Certification (T&C) industry. This industry plays an important role in ensuring that products are safe and of good quality for customers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Good quality product testing and certification significantly depend on the competence of employees working in the industry. This research study investigated the extent to which Science and Engineering graduates in Hong Kong had the employability skills and graduate competencies required to work in the T&C industry in Hong Kong. The study was undertaken in two phases sequentially. In phase one, a pragmatic research approach using a mixed-method design was used to examine the extent to which the current Science and Engineering curriculum in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Hong Kong met the specifications of the competence standards of the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (QF) for the T&C industry. Through a document review of key competencies in the QF for the T&C industry as well as the curricula of T&C programmes in the Faculties of Science and Engineering across the universities in Hong Kong, data was subjected to content analysis. By using mixed methods, the data was then further analysed quantitively by tracking patterns on three aspects: i) number of UC courses; ii) coverage of codes of competency; and iii) weight of codes. As a result of the findings obtained from phase one, exploratory research was subsequently conducted to investigate the extent to which Science and Engineering graduates could competently work in Hong Kong's T&C industry. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and the collected data was then analysed thematically. The key findings of this study showed that the current curriculum for Science and Engineering students in Higher Education Institutions did not enable graduates to meet the competency expectations of the T&C industry. The evidence from the data collected in this study indicated that Science and Engineering graduates lacked some core graduate competencies that would enhance their employability in the T&C industry. However, the recently developed T&C programmes in the Science and Engineering curriculum of three universities in Hong Kong were designed to support the transition of T&C graduates from the classroom to the T&C workplace. In a comparison of T&C graduates with conventional science and engineering degrees, the T&C graduates appeared to have better employability skills and graduate competencies needed for work in the industry. Hence, the evidence from this study indicates that a gap existed with regard to the graduate competency requirements of the T&C industry and the conventional Science and Engineering graduates' competencies. The gaps identified primarily included the implementation of testing, an indication that most conventional Science and Engineering graduates were unable to apply their knowledge practically. The study concluded that Hong Kong's Higher Education Science and Engineering curriculum should be redesigned to ensure that graduates looking to enter the T&C industry had the employability skills and graduate competencies needed to work in the industry.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available