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Poor careers advice sees children miss out on IT jobs

school

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 3 Feb 2012 at 09:37

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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User comments

Wasted opportunity!

It really infuriates me. IT is a compulsory GCSE - and they get "taught" about online shopping, social networking, MS Office and with a vague nod at creating a web page. Most of which they can or do learn elsewhere. One size fits all BASICS.

There should be an option REAL GCSE for IT. This WOULD involve technical elements - would encourage students to learn about stuff like networking, software development process and actually CREATE things. Young people that choose to do so would be challenged and actually learn useful skills - a foundation for possible further study.

Yet another wasted opportunity.

By halian on 3 Feb 2012

+1 halian

Whether schools generally of the education system as a whole, IT is a broken subject.
Calling the current curriculum "IT" is like calling EastEnders "Shakespeare".
The obsession to hide behind TMA's (totally meaningless acronyms) is part of the problem.
Call it "Computer Science", "Computer Operations" and "Computer Programming" and then do what it says on the tin.
You don't call something "business studies" then teach photocopier operation!
Our children are being robbed of opportunity and failed by a lazy education system.

By cheysuli on 3 Feb 2012

Medicine, Law and Sales pay better

There are IT jobs that pay well, but whereas a doctor will automatically get a good salary, overtime and a massive pension the same is not so in IT.

In IT you will probably need to resign and go self employed in order to get paid well, which is a big risk to take. It paid off for me, but as a career path it is far from ideal. Few companies in the UK are ready to recognise the huge performance difference between individuals when they are employees, partly because it is so difficult to assess.

That said IT does offer reasonable salaries, and nice people to work with. Unfortunately few students are looking for a "solid" career choice, and the talented would be better off looking elsewhere.

By tirons1 on 3 Feb 2012

Agree with tirons1

Unfortunately I agree with tirons1 statement. I have worked in the private sector and I am currently in America working in the public sector (schools). Both places I have/am working at have great people to work with. I think in general though we all feel undervalued. Those in accounts/finance, HR, even PA's, make more money. Yet we possess the skills that allow all the departments to operate and do their work efficiently. When things don't work, users tend to scream and we're able to fix the issue.

I tend to find that the IT guy is the first to arrive and the last to leave, because so much relies on the systems being up. I'll also admit that I don't always know all the answers straight away, and if it is something I haven't faced before people don't understand why. I have well over 30 applications to support, and I admit I don't know the in's and out's of all those programs. I can figure it out, but I couldn't give an immediate answer all the time.

Our job is constant learning and I like that, but it's a lot of pressure and the work doesn't really stop when work has finished. When I can I read up on stuff at home, and that's harder now that I have a family.

In short, you have to really like computers to put up with a career in IT. I love my job, despite the cons. However, I feel a student would be better off getting into sales, medicine, law too.

By jazzy_jeff_81 on 3 Feb 2012

Agree with tirons1

Unfortunately I agree with tirons1 statement. I have worked in the private sector and I am currently in America working in the public sector (schools). Both places I have/am working at have great people to work with. I think in general though we all feel undervalued. Those in accounts/finance, HR, even PA's, make more money. Yet we possess the skills that allow all the departments to operate and do their work efficiently. When things don't work, users tend to scream and we're able to fix the issue.

I tend to find that the IT guy is the first to arrive and the last to leave, because so much relies on the systems being up. I'll also admit that I don't always know all the answers straight away, and if it is something I haven't faced before people don't understand why. I have well over 30 applications to support, and I admit I don't know the in's and out's of all those programs. I can figure it out, but I couldn't give an immediate answer all the time.

Our job is constant learning and I like that, but it's a lot of pressure and the work doesn't really stop when work has finished. When I can I read up on stuff at home, and that's harder now that I have a family.

In short, you have to really like computers to put up with a career in IT. I love my job, despite the cons. However, I feel a student would be better off getting into sales, medicine, law too.

By jazzy_jeff_81 on 3 Feb 2012

I agree with all of the comments above, but then I wonder if many of the subjects in the High School curriculum really provide information that's useful in the real world.

A friend left his job and came straight back to the same place as a contractor - on 33% more money.

I also can't help but feel undervalued - my wage has been reduced twice, to the point where my friend working in a factory on a production line earns more than I do - but then I work in a school where they're willing to invest £100K+ on IT equipment, and yet their highest paid IT tech takes home less than £1100 a month. Even the science techs are paid more and they don't have to service every department.

As for being desperate for new recruits in the IT industry; when the job description is for someone with the technical knowledge and experience of a senior systems administrator / programmer etc, but the title and wage is of a junior, it's not surprising they have difficulty filling roles.

By mulvaney on 3 Feb 2012

Agree with tirons1

Unfortunately I agree with tirons1 statement. I have worked in the private sector and I am currently in America working in the public sector (schools). Both places I have/am working at have great people to work with. I think in general though we all feel undervalued. Those in accounts/finance, HR, even PA's, make more money. Yet we possess the skills that allow all the departments to operate and do their work efficiently. When things don't work, users tend to scream and we're able to fix the issue.

I tend to find that the IT guy is the first to arrive and the last to leave, because so much relies on the systems being up. I'll also admit that I don't always know all the answers straight away, and if it is something I haven't faced before people don't understand why. I have well over 30 applications to support, and I admit I don't know the in's and out's of all those programs. I can figure it out, but I couldn't give an immediate answer all the time.

Our job is constant learning and I like that, but it's a lot of pressure and the work doesn't really stop when work has finished. When I can I read up on stuff at home, and that's harder now that I have a family.

In short, you have to really like computers to put up with a career in IT. I love my job, despite the cons. However, I feel a student would be better off getting into sales, medicine, law too.

By jazzy_jeff_81 on 3 Feb 2012

Double post

Sorry my browser crashed/recovered and must have sent my post again.

By jazzy_jeff_81 on 3 Feb 2012

Targets

How will we know how great our education system is unless we can be told every year that subjects have a (minimum) 90% pass rate?

P.S. C, C, B, C, A, A, C, B, A, D, B, A, , D, C, A, B, B, D... YW.

By dubiou on 4 Feb 2012

You gotta laugh...

I'll join tirons1 & jazzy-jeff in posing the hard question. If IT is so vital how come the pay and conditions are rubbish? (I summarise).

Unsocial hours are de rigeur. You simply can't have downtime during office hours. In the City this is often 06.00 to 20.00 so muggins the 'IT bloke' has to sort things out when everyone else is offline. This is becoming less possible as more & more (especially senior) staff work via VPN: from home, from abroad etc.

Of course judicious use of remote access to the system allows one to carry-out a lot of work from home 'after hours', but this is hardly 'family friendly'.

I could ramble on, but the point is that IT workers are essentially treated the same as all other workers. The 'bosses' pay as little as they can get away with for as much work as they can get.

The nasty twist is that we are always scapegoated.
Every problem in any organisation is down to 'IT'. Not the Senior Managers who Budget, Strategise, Purchase and set staffing for IT, but the poor bloody infantry who keep the whole arthritic shambles running!

It takes a lot of intelligence to be an effective IT worker, and most of us soon figure out that there's more money and less stress to be had elsewhere.

By wittgenfrog on 6 Feb 2012

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