What is real, in an IT world? Not jobs. The 90’s are gone, and they aren’t coming back. I can’t find a plumber when I need one but find XML programmers driving taxis and cleaning cars.

In an online survey, 46 per cent of respondents said their degree course failed to provide them with relevant skills. A further 41 per cent said that, with hindsight, they would have preferred to have gone straight into work and training than to university.

Graduates were disappointed they were not taught Java and .NET – despite demand for them in the commercial sector. Only 10 per cent of graduates were committed to working in the public sector.



  1. RTaylor says:

    Universities are good at teaching theory, and offering a broader liberal arts education. I do believe both are critical in shaping an individual for life. Technical schools tend to cram the relevant skills better for immediate employment. If you learn how to learn, you still shouldn’t have a problem. These people sounds as if they believe education should end with a degree. It’s really just the beginning. Perhaps too many students with a mediocre talent in programming are trying to pursue a career in it.

  2. Wayne Bradney says:

    In my practical Computer Science courses (practials formed less than 10% of the degree) we learned (note were not TAUGHT) LISP, Pascal, Smalltalk and assembler. How many of those are commonly used in the corporate workplace these days? Admittedly that was a while back, but a good software engineer with a grounding in the theory should be able to gain a productive, working proficiency in any language or framework in under a month.

    A university education is by definition ‘academic’. Universities should not be turning out $(LANGUAGE) code-monkeys who don’t understand bit-masks (yes, I’ve come across at least one recent graduate who didn’t have a grasp of binary).

  3. Gregory says:

    Actually, having gone through that in the UK – it’s more crappy courses.

    They still think anyone who knows the words XML and can read C++ will walk out with a job (hell, they even tell you that). It’s bullshit from them. No industry contacts, no idea of what to expect. No practical experience.

    It’s a joke.

    It’s not even the case that expectations are built up and then they have to just take a low-end job. It’s that when they come out they find out they aren’t actually qualified for anything and need to work, as you said, driving taxi’s or something. UK IT courses are a joke atm, yet they still say “earn £££s more!” on TV.

    Bah I say… Bah.

  4. Despite trying to ignore the stupid classes and piss poor teaching, I tried for my comp sci degree at my local university twice. I just could never get past how useless an experience it is. Not to mention, in the upper level courses, they just expect you to magically know things. We had to code extensions to Linux in C and assembler when the school had years before switched to using Java so we didn’t even know C++ (except the meganerds of course who knew C++ out of the womb).

    As I said, I gave up on it and graduated with my other degree, which is in Music Performance. Only a year later I now have a relatively cushy job doing web development at APC. Don’t buy the hype. You should have *A* degree in SOMETHING, but it need not be computer related. College degrees are the new high school diplomas. They prove to employers that you can follow through and complete something. But they don’t care what your degree is as much as what relevant skills and experience you can bring to the company.

  5. kzoodata says:

    I recall the course catalog at my university, which said that a computer science degree should be coupled with an “unrelated” minor, such as finance, math, etc. I chose math, as did most, because the core requirements brought you within one course of a math minor anyway. Now having actually worked for a living for the past 20+ years, I can say something else, anything else, would have been more helpful. You need education in the field where you will choose to work in, and an awful lot of computer training schools (be they universities or 2 year tech schools) simply don’t stress this well enough. Most people would be better served getting a business degree coupled with a computer science minor.

    That having been said, I still have to laugh at the free-trader talking heads who tell Americans (or basically any Western citizens) that they need to further their educations in order to compete with the Indians and the Chinese, who are supposedly better educated and have better work ethics. Hardy har. They work CHEAPER. You can’t really compete when the bottom line is the bottom line. The problem is compounded when your training is strictly in coding, which can be easily sent to a guy in Bangalore who apparently doesn’t need health-care or a car to get to work. Anyway, going to school and getting an education are not the same things. Think transplantability (can your work be farmed out elsewhere). Kinda hard for a plumber to be outsourced.

  6. kzoodata says:

    Amen Mr. Brownell. Large companies treat degrees like fashion statements. They are there to make the director level execs look good. I would also go as far as to say to avoid computer related degrees UNLESS your intention is to become a researcher, hardware developer or system-level programmer (working directly for a Microsoft, Sun or IBM).

    OK, most states have a requirement that all citizens attend at least a couple of years of high school (ie you must attend school until age 16, or whatever). Have we reached the point where we should REQUIRE high-school graduation, and offer free public post-secondary education? Never mind the exigencies of cost and capacities for a moment, are we now at point where our nation economic security depends upon a better educated populace?

  7. BOB G says:

    I learned to write code 20 years ago but my plumbers licence pays the bills.


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