Why IT graduates don't make the grade for jobs

Out-of-date skills and little real-world experience puts IT graduates top of unemployment list...

IT graduates are faring far worse than their peers when it comes to snagging a job, with graduate unemployment reaching its highest level in 17 years.

While total graduate unemployment stands at 8.9 per cent, IT graduates are facing unemployment rates of 16.3 per cent, according to the What do graduates do? report, published this week by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit.

Charlie Ball, the organisation's deputy director of research and one of the report's authors, told silicon.com that one of the reasons for higher IT unemployment is that technological innovation and development are occurring at such a fast rate that IT graduates may find their skills irrelevant.

Unemployment rates are higher among IT graduates

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

"Graduates taking a three-year course studying a new technology when they begin may find their skills obsolete by the time they graduate," said Ball.

Poor communication from the IT industry about what skills are required could also be causing lower graduate employment rates, according to Ball. "Although there are shortages in some technology skills, graduates don't necessarily know what they are," he said.

IT graduates may also lose out to other graduates when applying for non-tech jobs because they lack experience. "IT graduates tend not to have as much work experience and so employers may prefer to go for the safer option of employing someone with a longer employment history," Ball told silicon.com.

He said IT graduates may also be pickier about jobs than other graduates: "Many see IT degrees as vocational so IT graduates are more likely to hold out for a relevant job."

The high proportion of male IT grads may also have an impact. "Females approach job searching differently - women appear more willing in general to initially take jobs that may not be their ideal," he added.

Changes to the job market as a result of offshoring could also be reducing the number of entry-level jobs available to new graduates.

Richard Holway, chairman of researcher TechMarketView, called for a "fundamental review of the visa system" for IT workers and said all IT companies operating in the UK should have to state the number of entry- level IT jobs they create in the UK as part of the awarding criteria for all government contracts.

"Why offshoring companies, which are responsible for over 20 per cent of SITS [software and IT services] in the UK market, should get away with creating practically zero entry-level jobs here is a disgrace which needs to be addressed urgently," he wrote in the company's UKHotViews newsletter .