Poor careers advice sees children miss out on IT jobs

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Industry losing talent as youngsters don't understand prospects, report finds

Children are not getting good enough careers advice about tech jobs, according to a trade body study.

After surveying more than 1,000 students, non-profit trade association CompTIA found that only 5% of pupils interviewed believed IT lessons gave them an understanding of what a career in the tech industry involved.

Although 41% of children said they were or might be interested in an IT career, poor information given throughout education meant they were put off.

“There is plenty of potential interest, but the lack of information means a huge number of technology jobs remain unfilled and motivated graduates remain unemployed unnecessarily,” said John McGlinchey, vice president of CompTIA.

For far too long there has been a false assumption that IT is too technical for most people to get into

“Contrary to popular opinion, there are plenty of unfilled vacancies for young people, and plenty of young people with exactly the right aptitude and ambitions to fill them. The problem is largely one of making young people aware of these opportunities and how to get into them.

“All professional sectors, but particularly IT and technology which is so desperate for smart new recruits, need to do a lot more.”

Non-technical roles

The research found students didn't feel well informed about the range of careers open to them and CompTIA said the trend was particularly worrying in IT and technology, which is struggling to attract the 110,400 new entrants a year required to keep up with the industry’s growth.

The research also found stereotyped perceptions were still commonplace, with 17% of children seeing IT careers as involving no social contact. Although many roles in the industry don't need specific qualifications, 36% of students were put off applying because they assumed they would need an IT or related degree.

“For far too long there has been a false assumption that IT is too technical for most people to get into,” said Kevin Streater, executive director for IT Intelligence at the Open University.

“The reality is that anyone who is educated, motivated and passionate about technology should consider a career in the industry. At its core, it is very much a career where you can keep learning, keep developing and keep your hands on technology.”

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