Designing an Innovative International Master’s Program to Teach Advanced Digital Professionals

In order to increase the number of highly educated specialists in the ICT field essential for the further development of national economy, Riga Technical University (RTU) Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, RTU Riga Business School will collaborate with foreign partners on the design of a joint Master program.

Development of technologies is changing production and therefore, a growing demand for highly qualified specialists in the ICT field has been observed for a prolonged period of time already. Medium and long-term labor force forecasts both in Latvia and elsewhere indicate the growing need for employees with knowledge in digital technologies, computer sciences, specialists endowed with analytical thinking skills, ability to manage, plan and coordinate changing conditions of the work environment.

At the same time, forecasts also indicate the lack of such specialists.
Responding to the challenges of the field, RTU, RTU Riga Business School, Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (Lithuania), Tallinn University of Technology (Estonia) in cooperation with the partners representing the industry, excellence, and research centers, technology transfer organizations and digital innovation hubs from Rumania, Italy, Spain and Lithuania will design a joint Master program in the frame of the project MERIT (Master of Science in Smart, Secure and Interconnected Systems, project No. 101083531). The project will be implemented until the Summer of 2026.

The program will be built on the market needs and further research directions. At the same time, offering to the emerging specialists ability to strengthen both professional skills and soft skills, the program will concentrate on Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and Cybersecurity. It is also planned to provide mobility opportunities to teaching staff and students, blended learning options, integration of research aspects and market problems to hands-on projects, hackathons, and future career assistance. The students’ learning progress will be monitored together with data mining based tools and necessary actions will be taken to ensure timely intervention and support.

In order to increase the number of ICT specialists, it is planned to implement other activities related to public education and interest in the field of ICT, as well as a wider offer to retrain and continue to raise the qualifications of both specialists not related to the field and those already working in it.

The project partners intend to expand the MERIT educational ecosystem to other countries as well. Namely, using the networks of the European Digital Innovation Center of MERIT partners, countries with a low digital economy and society index will be selected in order to stimulate interest in ICT studies with support mechanisms.

Already in 2018, IT and related sectors started to look for opportunities how to increase the number of university graduates in the computer science field from around 500 to 3000 per year. In 2019, to solve the challenges related to the Latvian computer science sector, an agreement was signed on the cooperation between the Ministry of Economics, Ministry of Education and Science, IT and financial sector, as well as RTU, RTU Riga Business School, and University of Latvia. MERIT is one of the initiatives of this cooperation.