Currently, there are some challenges in the minerals and metallurgical engineering Master level programmes when it comes to programme attractiveness for new students. This is a global phenomenon, despite the urgent need of specialized personnel by the industry. The number of students participating in these programmes has steadily declined in the past years.
One of the perceived challenges is that the overall image that students have about the field as well as the expected job opportunities it provides is outdated and narrow. The interviews carried out during the pilot phase have indicated a mismatch between student perceptions and industry reality. At the same time the actual opportunities that the field provides are presumed to match the values and expectations of the students, which indicates that more students can be attracted to the field through updating their current beliefs. When thinking about a Sustainable Metals Processing programme, for example, it might evoke metal scrap piles rather than opportunities to create new solutions in the field of raw materials and circular economy. Students might not be aware of the various job opportunities the field provides: they are likely familiar with the jobs offered by a few traditional metal producers but are less aware of the future opportunities related to e.g. batteries and recycling.
Currently, we are carrying out research with different stakeholders (students, academia and industry) to define what competences and field-specific skills are needed in the future in different jobs related to Sustainable Metals Processing (SMP). The aim of this first stage of the pilot is to produce a common understanding between the SMP teaching staff, alumni and stakeholders (particularly with potential employers of SMP alumni).
What has become clear during the first interviews is the lack of understanding of the real opportunities this industry provides to students. In addition to industry-specific skills, the industry is looking for creative problem-solvers with international working ability and an entrepreneurial mindset.
To help with the collection of data, we count with the support of SkillSafari, an education management company. The research is currently done in the form of interviews with the relevant stakeholders of the sustainable metals processing field including industry representatives, student (guild) representatives and teachers. The aim of the interviews is to gather data (text, video) to develop interactive visualizations of the data. At this stage, the visualization is done with Kumu tool as it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate with a mind map how different key concepts within this field link to each other and how different job opportunities can benefit from them. In the interviews industry experts also share their career stories that will be used as part of the visualization at a later stage. The purpose of the stories is to share inspiring stories of interesting projects that could draw potential students to join the Major.
Platforms and tools
Currently, we are focusing on research and gathering information via interviews. In the meanwhile, we are also testing different tools to visualize the data, including Kumu and Thinglink.
The aim is to support students’ understanding of the field by providing them with more stories and examples to the future job opportunities via a digital tool.
School of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering
School of Chemical Engineering & School of Science, Learning Services