Specialized digital courses for women in Fukushima Prefecture
Recently, the digital field has become more and more prominent in society with the promotion of DX (Digital Transformation) and the establishment of the Digital Agency as a national ministry. It is not hard to imagine that IT skilled personnel are in high demand by all kinds of companies and organizations in this trend.
The University of Aizu, as a university with a department specializing in computer science and engineering, not only trains its own students to become IT professionals who can play active roles in Japan and abroad, but also provides learning opportunities for working adults and the general public. One such program is the "IT Career Development School for Women" introduced here.
We spoke with Professor NAKAMOTO Junji of the University of Aizu, who is in charge of the course, about this initiative.
In order to solve the "employment mismatch" that has recently been particularly prevalent in the digital field, we are offering a specialized digital learning course, "IT Career Up School for Women," for women who have left work due to childbirth or child rearing, and are seeking employment or career advancement in Fukushima Prefecture. and Professor NAKAMOTO.
The term "employment mismatch" here refers to a situation in which there is a mismatch between the skills possessed by women seeking employment and the human resources that companies want to hire, resulting in a loss of employment opportunities.
Professor NAKAMOTO also told us the reason why he dared to target women for this course. In the past few years, the need for jobs in the digital field has increased rapidly, and there is a nationwide shortage of workers. In particular, digitization is rapidly progressing in clerical jobs, and the need for personnel with IT skills is increasing. However, the percentage of non-regular female employees is relatively high in clerical jobs, and along with the decrease in jobs due to the digitization of clerical work, the phenomenon of "excess manpower" is beginning to occur on a daily basis in our society. In this modern social climate, we offer this course in order to nurture human resources who match the recent high demand for jobs in the digital field and to support career development for better employment."
Originally started in 2009 as "Women Programmer Training School," the course was held for three years under the banner of fostering women programmers. Later, the curriculum was revised to include not only programming but also IT skills in general, and the name of the course was changed to the current name in 2020 to better match job opportunities in the digital field, and this year marks the third year of the course. Currently, we offer two courses, the "Basic IT and Web Design Course" and the "Basic Programmer Course," covering areas with high job-seeking needs, such as clerical positions with IT skills, web designers, and programmers.
Basic IT and Web Design Course
In addition to learning Excel and IT literacy and digital office work, students will also learn how to use web tools to disseminate information, such as website design and production, with the aim of gaining employment in IT-related companies and IT-related businesses in the prefecture.
For IT beginners, with a capacity of about 45 participants, the course duration is about 3 months.
Basic Programmer Course
This course is designed to develop human resources to develop software by acquiring basic knowledge of system development and databases, programming using the Java language, and agile development.
Students will work for IT-related companies or IT-related businesses in the prefecture, or start their own businesses.
For intermediate to advanced IT professionals. The course is limited to about 45 participants and lasts approximately 7 months.
Both courses are based on online e-learning. While taking care to allow students to study efficiently at times that suit their lifestyles, the courses also include live exercises conducted by instructors. Professor NAKAMOTO explains, "By combining video and live classes, students not only acquire IT knowledge, but also have the opportunity to learn while communicating with the instructor and other students, which we believe will help them gain a deeper understanding of IT.
Acquire more practical IT operations and development through industry-academia collaboration
Professor NAKAMOTO has been involved in the "IT Career Upgrade School for Women"since 2020. We asked her about what she focuses on in the operation of this course.
We are committed to managing the school by exchanging opinions with students and instructors on the organization of the curriculum and other aspects of the course environment to ensure that it is easy for individual students to attend. The main goal of the school is to ensure that all students are 100% employed in the digital industry. To achieve this, it is very important not only that students learn knowledge and skills, but also that they are matched with the human resources that companies are looking for.
In order to better match the course content with the human resources required by companies, this course offers two courses to train IT personnel, but the knowledge and skills required by the industry change with the times. We change our curriculum every year to keep up with the fast-changing IT industry. To create this curriculum, they collaborate with professors at the University of Aizu, who conduct academic research on cutting-edge IT, and with general companies, where the students actually work.
Professor COHEN from the University of Aizu, who is well versed in computer art and has an artistic approach, teaches 3D animation programming using Alice (a programming learning environment). Professor WATANOBE Yutaka , a programming specialist, has developed a system for competitions and teaches how to program it. Each instructor is supported by about two students as assistants each time. They work together with the lecturers to manage the course. F-COM Corporation (Koriyama City), which is involved in planning, environment construction, and operation of systems and information equipment, teaches general programming and how to create Web applications using Java programming in live online classes. (Koriyama City), which is engaged in planning, environment construction, and operation of systems and information equipment, teaches general programming and how to create web applications with Java programming in live online classes. They are teaching me online."
In addition to the opportunity to learn academically from experts in various fields and acquire skills useful in the workplace, the course also includes job placement assistance for students. We asked about this point as well.
The mission of this course is to provide consistent support from the time students take the course to the time they find a job, and we are committed to creating a path that leads to a new start for students by holding company information sessions and individual interviews as needed after they complete the two courses.
Some of the members who completed the course are now working as ICT support staff in Nishiaizu Town, helping to introduce educational materials using tablets at elementary and junior high schools in Nishiaizu Town, and others have joined IT companies in Fukushima City. Many of the members have been active through this "IT Career Upgrade School for Women" curriculum, which includes IT knowledge and skills acquisition and job matching. The program has successfully achieved its goal of training female IT professionals and creating new opportunities for them to play an active role in the IT industry.
Received the Engineering Education Award from the Japan Society for Engineering Education
The "IT Career Advancement School for Women" is also making a significant contribution in terms of recurrent education. Recurrent education means that even after leaving school education and entering the workforce, each person can re-enter education when necessary, repeating both work and education. This course was awarded the "Engineering Education Prize" by the Japan Engineering Education Association in FY2020 because it targets women who are currently unemployed, women working as non-regular employees, and women seeking to re-enter the workforce after leaving due to childbirth, childcare, or other reasons. The "Engineering Education Award" recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact on and contributed to the development of engineering education and engineering education in Japan through their pioneering and innovative attempts. We asked him about this prestigious award.
The University of Aizu is the only university in Japan that has long been involved in this kind of recurrent education for women specializing in the digital field. The University of Aizu is the only university in Japan that has long been involved in this kind of recurrent education for women specializing in the digital field.
The social issues of "employment mismatch" and "lack of human resources in the digital field. This course will have a positive impact on issues such as the "decline in the number of workers" and the "advancement of women into the workforce.
To date, approximately 500 students who have taken this course are active on the front lines of the IT industry, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture. And the number will continue to grow.
Furthermore, Professor NAKAMOTO informed us about the future prospects for educational activities such as this course. The SDGs, which were adopted unanimously by the member countries of the UN Summit in September 2015, are international goals for a sustainable and better world as stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and in recent years they have begun to spread as a global movement, especially in developed countries. One of the most impressive phrases is "leave no one behind. In the area of IT human resource development in the digital field, which is also a regional issue, the University of Aizu has also established a management system to ensure that no one is left behind.
In particular, as the digital society advances in the future, there is concern that seniors with limited or poor IT skills will be left behind in the digital society. For these seniors, "We would like to provide opportunities for them to have hands-on experience in operating digital devices such as smartphones and PCs, and we would like to develop a curriculum, including an instructional outline, that will enable us to train personnel for this purpose," he said.
This is also a part of the "Digital Utilization Support Promotion Project," a policy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which calls for the "creation of a training program to foster and train digital utilization assistants. This project is also in line with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications' "Digital Utilization Support Promotion Project," which is aimed at creating a training program to nurture and train digital utilization assistants.
The University of Aizu will continue to catch up with social needs in human resource development and education in the digital field, including the "IT Career Development School for Women" initiative introduced here, and will continue to produce results in the future. This is because the University of Aizu has a team of excellent lecturers who understand the needs of society and are able to give shape to activities that utilize their IT knowledge and skills, something that we can be proud of both in Japan and abroad. The students who gather under the guidance of these lecturers are expected to learn "what IT can do" that is required by society, and to spread their wings in the world and leave their mark on the world.
Professor at the Reconstruction Assistance Center. Enrolled from July 2020 to June 2022.
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