What Vietnamese Employers and Educators Want in Impactful Engineering Degree Programmes

What Vietnamese Employers and Educators Want in Impactful Engineering Degree Programmes

Thuy Tien Nguyen, Anh Pham Thi, Tuan Anh Nguyen, Luu Mai, J. Toby Mottram, Georgia Kremmyda, Yiannis Koumpouros, Angelos Georgoulas, Dong Doan Van
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5619-4.ch010
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This chapter presents results and analysis from the ENHANCE project survey for the views of employers and educators towards the impactful improvement of engineering degree programs in Vietnam. This building capacity project aims to find ways of strengthening the employability of engineering graduates by improving the quality of engineering programs. The survey was carried out by inviting respondents from industry (employers) and from higher education (educators) to answer online questionnaires. The number of respondents was 116, of which 69 are educators and 47 are employers. This chapter presents results that encompass the following three topics: university graduate attributes, capabilities, knowledge, and understanding; the teaching and learning methods used in universities; and the future of engineering programs in Vietnam.
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Introduction And Vietnamese Context

The engineering profession in Vietnam is for versatile and impactful careers that create a legacy for society and for the lives of everyone (Arunkumar et al., 2018). To support their businesses, employers are demanding engineering graduates be better trained and better educated. Within the Higher Education (HE) sector, today’s agenda in Vietnam focuses on engineering graduate employability and the development of measurable outcomes for higher quality in graduates’ attributes and skills. Because of these society-driven HE changes, there is an unstoppable push for engineering programmes to go far beyond the traditional core teaching of fundamental principles in science and technology. This is reflected in the Vietnamese university system, which has three pillars to the content of graduate programmes. These unpinning pillars are knowledge; abilities and skills; and personal qualities and attitudes. To successfully achieve the required learning outcomes from embedding these pillars into engineering programmes Vietnamese HE must identify the desired attributes of its graduates. It is observed that these graduate attributes are delivered primarily through traditional or online lecturers and/or stand-alone specialized laboratory-based practical.

It is generally accepted that engineering graduates need to be prepared for the increasing use of advanced and appropriate technologies in their workplaces. In 2007 Patil and Codner (Patil & Codner, 2007) distinguish hard, soft and global skill sets as essential components of engineering students’ competencies. of Hard skills are fundamental knowledge; expertise in engineering subjects; engineering design and problem solving skills; project management skills, etc. Under the soft skills are listed general knowledge; communication skills; managerial and organization skills; negotiation and interpersonal communication skills ; ethics, empathy; leadership and listening; financial management and budgeting; and safety and sustainability; The global skills set encompasses understanding global, political and societal issues; cross and multi-cultural issues; international labour market and workplace imperatives; engineering solutions/applications in a global context, etc.. For Vietnamese students to effectively be able to apply soft and global skill sets in the engineering workplace we observed that education and training requires the introduction of new graduate attributes and non-traditional teaching and learning methods, which are not familiar within current Vietnamese HE. These same Vietnamese students are well-known historically to cope well with education scoping the hard skills by way of the teaching of fundamental principles covering core science and technology subjects that are assessed by traditional paper examinations.

In recent years there has been an upsurge in the attention in Vietnamese universities for programme leaders to map and develop a new set of workable graduate attributes. The underlying factors that have influenced the growing importance of these attributes, include education being a lifelong process, a focus on graduate employability and the development of outcome measures to demonstrate the overall quality of HE throughout the country (Bath et al., 2004). Most Vietnamese universities prepare their engineering curricula in accordance with the frameworks and guidelines of the well-known engineering accreditation bodies, such as Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in North America and ASEAN University Network (AUN). Departments and faculties with engineering programmes implement these accreditation requirements to define, monitor, and articulate essential graduate attributes. Accordingly, Vietnamese universities have recently addressed the importance of properly including employability skills in their graduate programmes. This is achieved through courses with learning outcomes linked to assessing development and applications of skills. It is noteworthy that in 2016 the Vietnamese government issued the National Qualifications Framework which embeds the concept of learning outcomes to increase quality of HE with respect to graduates’ employability skills.

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