IT degrees: You don't need one to succeed in IT, say CIOs

CIO Jury: Bad news for tech graduates as they are told their qualifications may even hold them back

An IT degree is no longer necessary for success in the IT department and could even hold graduates back, according to's exclusive poll of CIOs.

IT graduates are already faring far worse than their peers when it comes to finding a job, research out last week found. While total graduate unemployment stands at 8.9 per cent, IT graduates are facing unemployment rates of 16.3 per cent, according to a report by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

And with technological innovation and development occurring at such a fast rate, IT graduates may find the skills they have developed over their degree course irrelevant by the time they leave university, HECSU said.

Piling on the bad news for IT graduates, when asked "Do you need an IT degree to have a successful career in IT?" the CIO Jury was unanimous in its verdict that an IT degree is not necessary for a successful career in technology.

Unemployment rates are higher among IT graduates

Unemployment rates are higher among IT graduates
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Graham Yellowley, technology lead equities at LCH.Clearnet, told that a degree specific to IT is not a pre-requisite for a career in the field: "The graduate market is difficult at present but employers are looking for aptitude and attitude so graduates with a strong self-awareness, team working, drive and ability to perform are ideal - as long as they obtain a 2:1 degree."

According to Alan Bawden, IT and operations director at The JM Group, a business qualification can be more useful than an IT one for those seeking a job in technology.

"I strongly believe that for most UK IT departments a business degree of some sort will be better suited for the IT department of the future. The focus will be on making the business and IT work together. More and more of the technical detail will be outsourced to cheaper cost centres."

For Derrick Wood, CIO at Wood Group Production Facilities, an IT degree can even hamper graduates.

"From my perspective as a business CIO, I view an IT degree almost as a negative in many cases. In my experience many IT graduates focus on the technology rather than the application of the technology to deliver business benefit through provision of valuable business information and/or enablement of efficient business processes."

Neil Harvey, IT director at Sindlesham Court, believes IT degrees should include a greater focus on the business side of technology.

"As IT continues to move to becoming a more...