What is wrong with today’s IT graduates?
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What is wrong with today’s IT graduates?

What is wrong with today’s IT graduates?

Posted on 13th December 2017

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graduate graphicHaving written yesterday about the lack of women studying computing science at university, today I have to report from the other end of university life, or, more specifically, what happens once these IT students (both men and women) graduate.

The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development – HR to you and me) is intimately bound up with recruitment issues – it’s a major subset of what they do – so it is hardly surprising that they take a keen interest in graduate employment. Their report last month was an eye-opener.

Although they concentrated on the headline that “a third of recent UK graduates earn well below the national average wage, while women are paid less than men six months after graduation,” it was a statistic a little lower down in the report that staggered me.

Apparently, “STEM graduates are more likely to be unemployed after six months than the average graduate, despite the Government focus on encouraging people to pursue those subjects.”

What’s worse is that, compared to a national average unemployment rate of 4.9%, the breakdown of graduate employment for STEM students is as follows: 6% for engineering and technology, physical science and maths students, and, wait for it, 8% for computing science students. Yes, computing science students are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as the average person!

Given everything we know about the skills shortages in IT, and the hue and cry about the numbers studying the subject, surely, surely there ought to be jobs for those coming out of our universities?

The CIPD’s spokesperson, rather stating the obvious, said, “that investment (in STEM skills) doesn’t appear to be translating into better graduate outcomes.”  For those who don’t understand HR-speak, this translates as “we are spending – or wasting if you prefer - lots of taxpayers’ money to train IT graduates and far too many of them aren’t getting jobs.”  Why this is would be a not unreasonable question to ask…

In one way or another, the most plausible explanation is that the standards set by industry are far higher than those set by the universities and/or the standards of graduate (teaching) are too low for the prevailing standards in industry.  Either way, it seems that we’re wasting not just money but people’s lives.  The other possibility is that companies are not offering graduates jobs because they want people with more experience.
I’d love to know what our clients -  and graduate candidates - think about this.  Do you find that the standard of graduate is too low for your requirements?  Are you not offering graduates jobs because you want someone with a few years under their belt?  If you are a recent IT graduate, did you struggle to get a job?  What do you think generally about the quality of IT and digital graduates coming on to the market?  Let us know, and if anyone would like to write a guest blog on this subject then we’d be happy to publish it.

Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT

Posted in News, Opinion

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