Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United Kingdom News

In UK, Computer Science Graduates the Least Employable 349

Posted by timothy
from the double-major-next-time dept.
Rogerborg writes "The BBC reports that in the UK, computer science graduates are now the least employable of students leaving with a degree, 17% of them being unable to find a job within six months of graduation. Unsurprisingly, medics, educators and lawyers do better, but even much mocked communications and creative arts graduates are finding work more easily."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

In UK, Computer Science Graduates the Least Employable

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:38AM (#32770388)
    Take showers before going out in public. Brush your teeth twice a day. Get a haircut. Shave. Trim your eyebrow.
    • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:46AM (#32770422)

      Take showers before going out in public. Brush your teeth twice a day. Get a haircut. Shave. Trim your eyebrow.

      [trollface.jpg]

      It's a bit weird, as overhere I received news IT is picking up and infrastructure and maintenance jobs are still required; companies rely on their IT infrastructure and automation tasks.

      I was talking about this with a friend and wondered how the industry would evolve, and wondering why and how many people would still pick up on information tech, as we used to have popculture around IT sparking and keeping our interest (hackers, matrix, the net, ...) while we had this "new thing to play with", visibly evolving tech, games we could improve yourselves and what have you.

      These days, it doesn't seem "new" and I only encounter few students who are enthousiastic as "we used to be", and the online experience is a bit compressed to a few major sites (compared to the animated-gif glory of the turn of the millenium, where everyone had their personal webpage and everybody tried to create something).

      Considering there's been a major risk in commencing IT studies (in the crisis, alot of graduates have been doing dishes instead of working, having their skills "outdated" and being replaced by the next batch of graduates the year after fe.) I got the impression it's an industry drying up and will be high in demand in a few years.

      I'm really curious for other people's perspectives though..

      • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:14AM (#32770562) Homepage Journal

        Take showers before going out in public. Brush your teeth twice a day. Get a haircut. Shave. Trim your eyebrow.

        [trollface.jpg]

        It's a bit weird, as overhere I received news IT is picking up and infrastructure and maintenance jobs are still required; companies rely on their IT infrastructure and automation tasks.

        But computer science graduates don't go into IT. Thats a blue collar profession now. Installing windows and reloading printers.

        I work in transport. Road and air. There is demand for software engineering pretty much wherever you look. In the UK I would expect that rail and sea transport would be more important too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by somersault (912633)

          By the sounds of this report, computer science grads don't go into anything!

          I work in IT, for an engineering company. I do occasionally reinstall Windows and reload printers, but I also maintain a couple of their technical apps and I've been developing a few web based systems for different depts which at least holds my interest. I've sometimes wondered if I left this job whether I would even stay in IT though - it's what I'm good at and it pays well, but I also have this strange urge to be a delivery driver

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by zhrike (448699)

            Not sure how long it would take me to get bored of that!

            Not long (IMO). I had a bunch of manual labor jobs before (finally) going into IT: Tree work, construction, furniture repair and delivery, etc. There are some of those romantic notions about those jobs, and some of them were a blast, but that stuff takes its toll on your body, you do NOT get paid well, and the benefits usually pale in comparison. I also got wore down by the treatment you receive from others ... the assumptions made about intellect, etc

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by xaxa (988988)

          But computer science graduates don't go into IT. Thats a blue collar profession now.

          Well, that depends what the survey means by "computer science".

          Here's [hesa.ac.uk] the link to the report. Find the link "Table 3" within it for a PDF of the broken down results. Note that the only IT/Computing subject is Computer Science, and it has almost as many graduates as all of the physical sciences. I think it includes IT degrees too.

          In the UK I would expect that rail and sea transport would be more important too.

          Yes -- and I would think rail transport has even more CS areas than road transport. As well as usage/capacity measurement/predictions and logistics, there's complicated timetables,

        • But computer science graduates don't go into IT. Thats a blue collar profession now. Installing windows and reloading printers.

          As an employer, this is all too true. If you have mediocre skills, you get nothing. The commodity "institutes" churn out unemployable garbage, and the entitled college graduates throw around terms like "ERD" but have no actual skill and balk at Help Desk offers because they think it's beneath them.

          • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:23AM (#32771546)

            ...balk at Help Desk offers because they think it's beneath them.

            For graduates who are trained to a reasonable level of knowledge and skills, it often is beneath them, in the sense that they are capable of doing much more demanding (and better compensated) things.

            Unfortunately for them, there are already many existing workers in the market with equally good paperwork and several years of real world experience behind them. Blame the dot-com boom for starting the trend, the general push in the UK to get everyone and his brother to do a university degree for perpetuating it, and the way that we're a relatively young industry and few people hitting retirement age and leaving the employment pool today are in IT for not closing the cycle.

            In that context, most employers are going to go for the proven, experienced candidate over the hot shot graduate without a second thought. There used to be a reasonable argument about taking on fresh grads rather than people with a year or two of experience because then you could train people in your own organisation's way of doing things without having to break old habits. However, when you can hire people who have been "downsized" after 5 or 10 years in the business for not much more money than a graduate would be claiming a year or two down the line, even that argument for hiring grads is weak.

            There are just too many people with these qualifications, at a time when not enough paying jobs require them.

            • by NekSnappa (803141) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:41AM (#32772344)
              If they're the type of person who believes a job is beneath them I don't want them on my team. Especially if they are fresh out of school.

              If you're fresh out of school and are offered a job in your field that is entry level, it is not beneath you. For the most part entry level people get entry level jobs. Then if you have any chops you can move up more quickly than others who are less qualified.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Lonewolf666 (259450)

              For graduates who are trained to a reasonable level of knowledge and skills, it often is beneath them, in the sense that they are capable of doing much more demanding (and better compensated) things.

              Yet it can be a way to get into the business with a bit of luck. My first "real" job after university was 2nd level support, after graduating as electrical engineer right into the mid-90s layoff wave in engineering. Not really what I hoped for. The whole thing happened in Europe BTW.

              But my next job was advertised as "supporter with some additional software development" and turned out to be 70% software development, 30% support. With the experience from that I was eventually able to find a genuine developmen

        • by umghhh (965931)
          you mean there is an industry in UK except financial 'industry' ? That is indeed puzzling. More puzzling than the fact that computer scientist cannot find jobs - that meets with my expectations....
      • by Glonoinha (587375)

        Computer Science - designing, writing, and integrating new software packages to meet business requirements.
        IT - purchasing, configuring, installing, maintaining the servers, network, infrastructure, operating systems, and integration points with other systems at the hardware and network levels.

        One involves doing work that has been off-shored. The other involves personally touching the hardware from time to time. Guess which group is still hiring people to work on-site?

        But I completely agree with you - yea

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:10AM (#32770554) Journal

      The fact that they only mention "jobs" without distinction for what job level or type, and can include arts and communication skills majors in the same statistics make me think it might be a more mundane aspect to it than "CS graduates are less employable."

      More likely, some 17% of CS graduates are holding out for some programming job or higher, whereas an arts or women's studies graduate quickly comes to terms with getting a job as a receptionist or even a McDonald's job. It's not hard to notice that there are very few jobs as, say, an anthropologist studying the natives on some fabulous vacation island, or as some deluxe lobbyist for women's equality in Washington. And even if one still clings to that delusion in the long run, it's pretty obvious that another source of income will be needed until such a job becomes available.

      Basically in fact a lot of the CS graduates are simply competing for a very specific slice of the employment market, with a much smaller pool of jobs. And most likely are actually _more_ employable on that slice, and no less employable than an arts or anthropology graduate in the kind of McDonald's jobs most of those will get.

      And that is also not taking into account that a lot of CS and EE graduates actually have an even narrower slice in mind. E.g., most want a job making computer games, and precious few want one of those boring jobs that involve databases and java and writing unit tests. Or the elder gods forbid, maintaining a cobol program on some mainframe. Not only that has driven down wages in the games industry, but there still simply aren't half as many jobs as people who want them. A lot will spend those 6 months or a large part thereof, still hoping that Blizzard or Epic or Id will hire them, and inflate that unemployment number.

      And then there are those who think they're so smart, that anything short of directly starting as senior architect and/or a 6 figure starting wage, is waay below them and in fact outright demeaning. 'Cause, you know, their mommy always told them they're so smart, and besides they wrote the most compact bubble-sort in college, _and_ had a submission to the obfuscated C contest too. So they know all about how your programs should be made, obviously. And they even used "emerge" to compile a Gentoo distro once, which makes them practically kernel hackers, right? Needless to say, some of those inflate the unemployment figure too.

      • Currently in my country CS students could choose from as many jobs as they please. Most of the students already start working during their studies. There is also a government push to reduce the number of non-technical degrees as they cannot get a decent job.

        Interesting to see that this is quite the opposite of the UK situation.

        • Do I speak your language, and if so, how cold are your winters?

          • by drewhk (1744562)

            "Do I speak your language"

            Dunno :)

            "how cold are your winters?"

            Average low temp (last 10 years) is 2C
            lowest in 10 years is -23

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xaxa (988988)

          Currently in my country CS students could choose from as many jobs as they please.

          Everyone I know that did a halfway-decent CS course at an OK-or-better university has got a job very quickly. I think we need to see a breakdown by the degree and/or university.

          I expect degrees like "IT and Tourism Management" (Uni. Greenwich), "IT for the Internet" (Uni. Hertfordshire), "IT Support" (Kingston Uni.), "Information Technology and Media Studies" (Uni. Wales at Lampater) to have worse job prospects than any computer science degree.

          (I can't link to the list, but from here [ucas.com] click Search by Subject

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:18AM (#32771506) Homepage Journal

        More likely, some 17% of CS graduates are holding out for some programming job or higher,

        Plus, this survey is for "now".

        If you try to plan your college major for what you think is going to give you the best shot at a job, you will fail. Take what you're interested in and forget about the job. The job market is guaranteed to look different when you graduate, anyway. We're in a weird economy ATM. Next decade could have a huge jump in CS jobs and it might get a lot worse (and not just for CS majors).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmacs27 (1314285)
        I think you've missed a crucial point here. Those creative arts people are the ones getting the game jobs. At siggraph, 90% of the advertised jobs are for artists, not developers. These people aren't working at McDonald's. They are the ones that actually have the fun jobs. Software Architects take orders from creative directors, not the other way around.
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Take showers before going out in public. Brush your teeth twice a day. Get a haircut. Shave. Trim your eyebrow.

      All good advice, but unfortunately I don't think CowboyNeal reads all the items personally any more.

    • Take showers before going out in public. Brush your teeth twice a day. Get a haircut. Shave. Trim your eyebrow.

      That would kind of undercut your claim to be a programmer, wouldn't it?

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:43AM (#32770408) Journal

    I'm in the UK, have a computer science degree (two, actually), and have never really looked for a job. I've had two books published (with a third coming out soon), and have no shortage of consulting work. It's the summer (the first one we've had in three years) and so I spend a lot of time sitting outside relaxing. Not sure why I'd want a job - I'd earn less, have to sit in an office, and have someone else telling me when I had to do work (instead of when I had to have done work by).

    That said, I wouldn't employ half of the people on my undergraduate degree course to change a lightbulb, unless someone else was supervising them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlstead (636356)

      Well, congratulations of doing so well, but not everybody can be a high payed consultant, and if everyone was writing two books we'd be overrun by books and would have to hold book burning sessions. Be glad you've got a good set of brains and a good upbringing, but stop gloating.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:14AM (#32770566)

        What, you mean everyone isn't a randian superman like me? I'm shocked!
        And if you were in my mother's basement too you could see the shock on my face!

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:18AM (#32770582) Journal

        The point is not to gloat, but to make the point that a job is not always the right course of action for someone leaving university, and especially not in a field like computer science. There is lots of work that needs doing, but a lot of it is not in the UK. The last piece of work I did for a UK company was two or three years ago, but there is no shortage of contracting work available from foreign companies that I can do in the UK.

        By placing emphasis on the idea that 'now you've got a degree, you must get a job,' a lot of former students are completely ignoring other options for earning a living. As a nice side effect for the rest of the UK, because all of my income currently comes from abroad it is providing a small boost to the local economy. This would be a much bigger boost if more people worked in the same way. Rather than being unemployed and a drain on the state, people with useful skills could be bringing money into the country.

        Computer science is not the only field where this is an option. For example, a number of my friends work as freelance translators. They work on a contract basis for companies around the world, but mostly in Europe, translating things into English (or American, in some cases).

        The Internet means that many kinds of work no longer require physical proximity. Just because there are no jobs for these kinds of work in the UK does not mean that it is impossible for people in the UK to be paid to do this kind of work. For sure, it's not for everyone, but I'd imagine that a lot of the currently unemployed computer science graduates could work this way if they realised that it was an option.

        As a corollary, the government could do a lot to make it easier for people leaving university to become self employed, in terms of tax law and advice.

        • So ... unless you are the previous mentioned randian superman and can go to topcoder and own the place to put yourself into view how is a fresh student supposed to make himself employable for decent paying freelance work? You are competing against the usual assortment of east-Europeans/Asians etc who will underbid you. Far more than normal jobs this environment is a ruthless globalized meritocracy.

          Which is not to say that trying to land some projects wouldn't be a better use of your time than doing nothing

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TheRaven64 (641858)

            Open source is a good way to start. I've got quite a bit of work from companies that have seen hippyware stuff that I wrote and wanted someone to do something similar. They may be able to hire someone who is a better programmer in the general case, but not someone who has the same domain-specific experience.

            The other thing to remember is that work that pays poorly can often lead to work that pays well. In the past, I've done some free work for companies that looked like good longer term prospects. The

          • by delinear (991444)

            The key is being pro-active and proving your skills and commitment before you graduate. Offer your services (for free if necessary) to some real life companies and build up a portfolio of real, commercial experience. The main issue I see with CS recruitment is that university doesn't really teach you enough real world skills - of course this is the same for most university courses, but we don't expect a doctor or a lawyer to just turn up on day one and produce the goods, they're trained on the job, while CS

            • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:53AM (#32771250) Journal

              If I had to guess how GP got into his current position (assuming he's not just making it up), I'd guess he got off his backside and did some work on his portfolio before he left uni, if you just assume good uni grades will land you a high paying job or freelancer contract, you're in for a shock.

              Pretty much. I was active in the university computer society, which has a lot of old members hanging around and providing advice, and I did a fair bit of hippyware stuff. I cofounded one project, and actively contribute to two others. The most productive in terms of finding work has been LLVM - now seems to be a very good time to have compiler experience, with things like GPGPU and ARM SoC support being needed in a lot of places. I've never (yet) actually been paid to work on one of the projects that I contribute to in my free time, but it's worked as good advertising.

              The best advice I can give anyone at university now is don't expect your degree to teach you everything that you need to know. Schools teach you things. Universities give you an opportunity to learn. If you don't make use of this opportunity, don't complain that you aren't being offered work later, or that your degree was a waste of time (it was, but that was your fault).

              I did some teaching for a bit after my PhD and one of my students posted something complaining 'I'm paying £3000 a year for this degree - I don't expect to be told to read something in a book!' With that kind of attitude, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he is now unemployed. When I said 'this isn't going to be on the exam' and half the students started packing up to go, you could tell the ones who were there because they were interested in the subject, and the ones who were not. Anyone in the latter category is wasting their own time being on the course. If you get a degree you're interested in, you are much more likely to be employable than if you get a degree hoping to get a job as a result.

    • by Ash Vince (602485)

      I'm in the UK, have a computer science degree (two, actually), and have never really looked for a job. I've had two books published (with a third coming out soon), and have no shortage of consulting work. It's the summer (the first one we've had in three years) and so I spend a lot of time sitting outside relaxing. Not sure why I'd want a job - I'd earn less, have to sit in an office, and have someone else telling me when I had to do work (instead of when I had to have done work by).

      Just make sure you plan for the odd period where you are unable to find work. I know a few consultants who found finding work quite tricky to get the consulting work they relied on in about 2004 or so when the trend in the UK job market was to always hire permanent staff whenever possible and train them up via various government grants.

      This is never going happen with our current government but remember than things change. If you are in IT for the long haul then you can be sure you will see many changes over

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      I'm in the UK, have a computer science degree (two, actually), and have never really looked for a job. I've had two books published (with a third coming out soon), and have no shortage of consulting work.

      I would assume that you had a job before taking up consultancy. Very few people can become consultants straight from University.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:54AM (#32770786) Journal

        Nope, I started freelancing during my PhD, and continued to do it full time afterwards. I had a couple of jobs while I was an undergrad, but they didn't really make me want one when I finished. I did a couple of short-term academic research jobs (one between degrees, one after the PhD), but they don't really count because they were basically being a student without getting another degree at the end. The writing work I got through talking to the right people (contacts I made while working on the XMPP standard, while I was an undergrad), and the subsequent consulting has mainly come via my involvement with open source projects.

        No one becomes a well-paid consultant straight out of university (unless they have well-connected parents or something), but even while I was a student there was a reasonable amount of poorly paid contracting work available, and it's often possible to turn this into better-paid work when you've built a relationship with the company. Once you're sufficiently familiar with their operations that you can do in an hour something that someone less experienced would take a day to do, you can charge the same amount that the other person would charge for half a day and it's still good value for them.

        When you're starting out, it's much more important to build a good relationship with your customers than to get paid a lot. I'll often do a small amount for free for a potential client and then give them a quote for the rest - that way they have something to judge the value of the contract to them. I don't want to work for anyone who won't be happy with my work, and no one wants to employ a contractor to do work they won't be happy with (although a depressing number of companies do).

        That's the point of my post. Having a job is not the same as earning an income. You can leave university and become self employed, working for companies anywhere in the world, and being given a wide variety of interesting problems to work on. Or you can complain that there are no jobs (there certainly aren't many around here, although there are a couple of interesting startups). Most people pick option 2, and most of them do it because no one tells them that option 1 exists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tehcyder (746570)

      Not sure why I'd want a job

      For most of us, it sort of helps to pay the mortgage and feed our kids, you insufferably smug git.

  • Stats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ilovegeorgebush (923173) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:46AM (#32770414) Homepage

    17% of them being unable to find a job within six months of graduation

    So 83% are finding jobs within 6 months? That sounds suprisingly good if you ask me...Better than I would expect.

    I hate statistics, they're so over and incorrectly used.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      This article sounds like it was only written to create employment for statisticians.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by the_womble (580291)

        Wrong: it was only written to create employment for journalists. Why do you think media studies graduates are employable?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So 83% are finding jobs within 6 months?

      No. If 17% is unable to, it may well mean that 51% never even tried.

    • by Skuto (171945)

      It depends: would you have expected them to do worse than art majors?

  • by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:48AM (#32770426) Homepage

    ....would be a % of how many of those graduates actually understand anything about CS, or can apply it at all. My bet is that rather than CS grads having high unemployment, there is just a higher % of 'chaff' graduates that are just totally useless - which is likely considering CS is quite a bit more difficult to 'get' and apply than many other subjects

    • by Shrike82 (1471633) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:06AM (#32770534)
      As a UK lecturer on a CS course I can confirm that this is part of the problem. The prevalanence of computers means that all Universities have expanded their computing facilities and continue to do so. This means they can offer more computing places, which means more and more people who don't really know anything about computers can enroll on a CS course. Lots of students stare blankly at you when you talk about directories as a tree structure, or tell them they'll be using a command line interface. They think that checking their e-mails, browsing YouTube and managing to cheat in their college computing coursework means that a CS degree will be easy. Gone are the days when a computing degree would be full of nerds and geeks. Now it's full of people that really should be out there getting a job instead of wasting time and resources in Universities that are financially stretched as it is.
      • by Skuto (171945)

        Shouldn't these people just fail the courses (and hence not be in that statistic)?

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:18AM (#32770952) Journal
          In theory, yes, except for two things:
          • Departments only get funding for students who complete a year, meaning that they try not to let people drop out during the year. A lot of students would be better off deciding after a month that computer science isn't what they thought it was and dropping out, but this means that the department gets no money for them, which screws up their accounting.
          • University league tables use drop out rate as a negative when scoring. If 50% of people drop out before finishing the course, the department gets a low ranking, which makes it harder to recruit students in the future. This means that departments would rather graduate you with a third or a pass than let you fail.

          In CompSci in particular, a lot of people come in with no understanding of what the subject is really about. These people would be much better off switching to something else or going straight into industry, but the system is set up in such a way as to encourage departments to retain them and give them a poor quality degree.

          • by Skuto (171945)

            Hmm, is there no control mechanism that safeguards the value of the degrees?

            I understand there are some countries (I know of US, UK and to some extent France) where the school you go to determines how valuable your degree is. This explains why many comments here say that you should get a good degree from a good school.

            In other systems, the degrees are (as far as possible) equalized, and the quality safeguards are good enough that just getting the degree means you're "good enough" - almost nobody will ask fo

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by robthebloke (1308483)
            I used to work as a lecturer about 5 years ago or so. As for the first point, that was true to an extent at that time because labour had re-classified all courses by dropping them a funding bracket (losing approx £1000 to £3000 per student - co-incidentally the same amount as the top up fees they were trying to push through at the time!). You had to jump through about 10 levels of bureaucracy before you could fail someone, simply because jobs were on the line if the funding for that student was
        • Well that's the other flaw in these statistics: what degree did they get? A first? (Outstanding) A second? Maybe even a third?

          Degrees aren't all born equal which is something else this survey ignores (which is stupid really - they may have been able to draw a trend between the degree type and the unemployment rate per subject etc.)

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:42AM (#32771142) Journal
          Ah; but that would ruin the university and/or lecturer's numbers. And, thanks to various naive, "Hey, let's run this school like a business, punish failures, rewards successes" schemes, you can look bad because you failed too many people, regardless of whether they deserved it or not. Nobody seems to have figured out a quality metric that manages to capture "your quality, as expressed by the delta between the performance of these students under your tutelage vs. their hypothetical performance under other conditions" rather than a basic "what grades did your students get?"(the latter, perversely, makes people who provide honest feedback about bad performance look like bad teachers, while rewarding those who provide dishonest feedback about bad performance. Clearly an excellent metric.)
          • by nten (709128)

            Ask graduates after five years if they felt the money spent on their education was a good investment. That encourages the school to fail or otherwise convince people who shouldn't be in the field to leave, as they won't be happy once they hit the real world, and will hurt their metrics. It should probably be broken out by discipline.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Even there, unless you want "teacher/institution quality" metrics to just be a referendum on unemployment rates and consumer confidence indices at 5 years after graduation(consider, for instance, the .com bubble. It made a lot of CS grads very happy indeed, and its bursting made a lot of CS grads very unhappy; but, if anything, the happier the CS grads in the "real world" were, the shittier the CS programs were becoming, because they were filling with people who figured that a CS degree was a ticket to easy
      • Recruitment woes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:19AM (#32772096)
        I had someone come for interview not that long ago with a "first class" degree in computer science from a former poly. I actually apologised to him for asking our standard questions, which begin "How many bits in a computer word?" - which can elicit a response from "32" to "which architecture are we talking about here?" - it's an open ended question, in fact.

        Blank look.

        To cut a long story short, all he knew about was "web design" - but he couldn't actually do any job because he would be utterly unsafe. Buffer overflow? Numeric overflow? Performance? Algorithms? Not the first clue.

        In fact on this particular recruitment run we had three like that if you include the one with the fake degree certificate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770)

          I'm not very surprised, personally I could quite easily answer for bit, byte, (u)char, (u)int, long, long long and the (u)int(8|16|32|64) variety, but WORD and DWORD I don't think I've seen since the Win32 API. To me that's somewhere in obscurity between an octet and a nibble, I guess it depends exactly what the job was about but I wouldn't expect every developer to know that. And while I generally stay out IT formally, I've been running circles around a few IT departments...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spad (470073)

      I did a computer engineering degree (BEng) about 8 years ago and I was quite shocked in my first year at just how little some of my course mates knew about computing. In our mandatory (across campus) "learn how to use Office and browse the internet" lab session in the first semester there were a number of people who really struggled to get a passing grade (40%), let alone a decent one. When you add to that the fact that most of our programming labs were nothing more than an exercise in creative plagiarism a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      To be honest, a CS degree is nice and all, but personally I think, having proper, real life experience just also means more. CS needs to be rethought anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NJRoadfan (1254248)
      It actually amazed me in college how many people majoring in CS didn't know how to program...along with some who really didn't want to know because they really didn't like it. Umm, its a CS degree track, what did you expect, basketweaving?
  • Economics. Sorry for being obvious but I guess it doesn't make economic sense in most cases repayng years of some of the most expensive (though not the worst...) education available and at the same time paying pretty high taxes, when they can find developers in Russia, India or Ukraine at a fraction of the cost. E
  • by Zuzzy (124703) on Friday July 02, 2010 @05:50AM (#32770440)

    When I left 8 years ago, most of the best grads were in sponsorship schemes with the likes of Nortel and Marconi - and as it turned out they all left with no job to go to.

    Given the number of people who came out of these courses, and given the number of brilliant grads in my dept who had no job for months at that time, what hope have the 60% who scraped by?

    Mutliply that by the huge rise in these courses available from UK unis and ex-polys today and it isnt a surprise that McDonald's has a continuous employment pool.

    And the ridiculous thing is that I have been involved in trying to fill a backlog in recruitment for about a year and there are no candidates with decent experience in the market (it would seem). So its all about that first job still.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Burnhard (1031106)
      This is the main issue I think. An experienced candidate is almost always preferred to an inexperienced one. During a recession this is particularly true because taking on a new member of staff is both a cost and a risk. Given the pool of experienced candidates has increased (due to immigration), I'm not surprised new UK graduates are finding it harder to find work.
      • by drewhk (1744562)

        Extending my earlier comment: http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1705838&cid=32770770 [slashdot.org]

        This is again completely the opposite in my country. If you do not have a CS degree in a prominent university you will not get a good job because graduates are given a priority. I don't know why is this the case, and why there is a difference from the UK. Anyway, I don't complain :)

        • by Burnhard (1031106)
          All else being equal. I mean existing graduates with CS degrees, rather than new ones. I wouldn't want to be a developer without a degree no-matter how much experience I had.
        • by Burnhard (1031106)
          Yes, also large companies do recruit more from the graduate pool I believe. Smaller companies (who, because they're more numerous, offer most of the jobs in the sector) are more concerned with experience.
  • Expectations (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kryptikmo (1256514)
    It may well be that CompSci grads have higher expectations and refuse to take the first thing offered to them. When you hear about the salaries talked about on /., HN and Reddit, who the hell wants to take a job for £15k working for Asda as a maintenance programmer?

    Another aspect is: how many CompSci grads will initially attempt to start their own consultancy or work freelance as opposed to Creative Arts grads? And what percentage of them will be successful? It's impossible to draw too much from t
  • Not surprised (Score:3, Informative)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:04AM (#32770520) Homepage

    I am, technically, a partial CS-grad from a UK university - but I deliberately choose to do Mathematics as the "major" (not a term we use in the UK, but it explains it well enough) because the CS was so dire.

    Look at some of my previous comments on the subject: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1679538&cid=32509558 [slashdot.org] and http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1679538&cid=32508448 [slashdot.org]

    CS degrees in the UK are pretty worthless. I understand the difference between a theoretical subject and a practical one but CS degrees (which should be theoretical and therefore nothing to do with actual computer work) are basically achieved by implementing A*, or a KMP-search, or Quicksort, or Minimax or some other rubbish. Usually in Java. Usually as a "team effort" for at least part of it (one year of an MSc at my old uni is entirely a team-based project). Usually by way of trial and error and having no real concept of what you're doing. I can teach a 15-year-old the same things and although they would struggle immensely with predicate logic and such things, that's because it wouldn't take them 3-4 exclusive years to learn those things.

    If you're lucky, the uni students can program in BASIC or Java or Python before they join the course. Some haven't even *touched* a computer before. God help you trying to get them to learn a language they aren't already familiar with. The Compilers and Interpreters course that was part of my degree lost 90% of its students in the first three weeks because it was all theoretical, based on logic, grammar, etc. And that was 10 years ago and, from everything I've seen and heard from PhD students and the like, the situation has worsened in almost all British degrees. A third-year biology student asking a post-grad where the neck is (I shit you not - not a communication failure, they spoke English, understood the word but didn't know where the neck "began and ended"). A CS grad asking what a loop invariant is. MSc's implementing Minimax on the game of draughts (checkers) in Java for a third-year project.

    The course content is a waste of time. The only thing a degree measures is whether you can sit in a room for three-four years and learn what is told to you. That does *not* coincide with knowing your subject or being able to do anything practical with it. This is why the degrees, the MCSE's, the A+, the CCNA, mean NOTHING. I only work for places that have already realised this, and specifically hire on *ability*. That doesn't mean I can only do the practical stuff, I know the theory and can apply it and can bore people to death if they get me onto graph theory or coding theory without even trying. Try explaining what spanning-tree algorithms do and why they can be used to avoid network loops... most CS grads can't once they have left their graph theory courses. But CS-grads not only come out with no useful work skills, they come out with zero understanding of the underlying theory either.

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:25AM (#32771010)

      You may have gone to some piss pot ex-college bigging itself up by putting university in its title that only cared about the number of students on a course and not what they learned but I went to a proper Uni and we were *required* to learn formal proofs, predicate logic, set theory, database theory and microprocessor design amongst other things. If you failed those modules you were out. End of.

      "The only thing a degree measures is whether you can sit in a room for three-four years and learn what is told to you."

      So you think knowledge is a waste of time? An interesting point of view. What are you expecting , a degree that teaches you all the skills you require to go straight into a 6 figure salary? Get real. It gives you a grounding in various parts of CS, nothing more , and also a proof of ability to potential employers.

      "Try explaining what spanning-tree algorithms do and why they can be used to avoid network loops... most CS grads can't once they have left their graph theory courses"

      And I doubt you'd have much lucky explaining how gouraud shading works or how 3rd normal form differs from 2nd without looking it up first. So what? So you're clued up on one small part of CS because you work in that area. BFD. That doesn't make some sort of genius.

    • by dkf (304284)

      I am, technically, a partial CS-grad from a UK university - but I deliberately choose to do Mathematics as the "major" (not a term we use in the UK, but it explains it well enough) because the CS was so dire.

      Sounds like you went to a place where the CS school is poor. Which is a shame for you, but what happens when you don't research the quality of teaching in the relevant subject(s) before picking where to apply to. No university is uniformly good for all subjects; the good ones still have courses worth a damn and students able to keep up.

      But it's genuinely useful for students to learn about team working and keeping things going for a year. Done right, that teaches those greenhorns about what matters when it c

  • I'm not sure exactly what schools are meant by 'creative arts' but in the Netherlands - and I bet in most of the Western world - art school students with a degree are have a lot of trouble finding a job at all in arts. So 83% is a fantastic score, specially considering the economic being unstable etc.
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      I'm not sure exactly what schools are meant by 'creative arts' but in the Netherlands - and I bet in most of the Western world - art school students with a degree are have a lot of trouble finding a job at all in arts. So 83% is a fantastic score, specially considering the economic being unstable etc.

      Of course it could just mean they look at the current economic climate and accept jobs stacking shelves in supermarkets instead.

  • furth news. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjwt (161428) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:06AM (#32770530)

    "but even much mocked communications and creative arts graduates are finding work more easily"

    In realted news, mcdonalds hasnt had trouble filling job vacancies

    • by westlake (615356)
      In realted news, mcdonalds hasnt had trouble filling job vacancies

      But who is filling these vacancies?

    • If I lost my job, I'd definitely apply for a job at McDonalds. They have one of the best management training schemes in the world (along with Games Workshop, oddly) and they very quickly pick out the people with half a brain. You can shoot up to a franchise management position in far fewer years than in most other sectors, and from there you've got people and finance management skills which will apply to any sector you choose to work in.

      McDonalds does need burger flippers, but they can't run the shop.
  • People with theoretical comp-sci education don't have that much to write under competences in the cv and need to learn practical skills first. This means accepting a lower paying job to start with and many don't want that. But working up potential is much better. For me, this translated to accepting a minimum wage job(rural area, not that much choice and the employer was right) to getting paid well above average year or so later.

    There are people who can go solo right after getting the degree, but they us
  • A bit surprising (Score:4, Informative)

    by Skuto (171945) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:31AM (#32770642) Homepage

    I'm looking at the same stats here for Belgium, one of the UK's closest neighbors, and the picture looks quite different. No idea if this is because we're small, or if this is similar to the rest of mainland Europe.

    Informatics: one of the highest amounts of outstanding jobs, although 30% less than last year. Similar to engineers, though the demand for those didn't drop.
    Only beaten by: metal construction workers and technicians (x1.5), and...cleaning ladies! (x3)

    Unemployment after 1 year is between 5.1% and 13.3%.

    Art, fashion, language, archeology, interior design, and history around the highest ones (>15%), so this seems contrary to the original post.

    Medicine (even nurses), Science (Maths, Chemists, Engineers) have basically 0% unemployment.

  • It's all going IP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:44AM (#32770724) Homepage

    The final frontier of the wealthy is IP ownership. They only have to own something valuable and inexhaustible to become wealthy and stay that way. To ensure this, they only need some laws (got that) some world treaties (got that) and some soldiers to exert your will on the rest of the world (got that too!).

    Sure there will be some work in services of various types... medical, fast food, legal and what have you, but manufacturing and agriculture and even technical work are all send out of the country because local workers are too expensive. It harder to grow your wealth when you have to pay people enough not to starve...better to pay people who are already starving!

    This is the direction I see the world going anyway...

  • Module Choices (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gibsnag (885901) on Friday July 02, 2010 @06:52AM (#32770768)

    I finished a UK Comp Sci degree a few weeks ago. The quality of the degree depends significantly on what modules the student picks. If they decide to take all the easy modules with little extra programming or theoretical knowledge then they will come out with a useless degree and become part of that 15%. Fortunately at my uni (Nottingham) some of the more theoretical (as in actual Comp Sci) modules were mandatory.

  • Mod editor up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:01AM (#32770816) Homepage

    As the article submitter, I'm like to note that timothy actually corrected a factual inaccuracy in my original submission. In other words, he read the linked article and... well, there's no other word for it... he edited the submission.

    I know, I know: I wouldn't have believed it unless I'd seen it myself.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:04AM (#32770828)
    In britain almost no companies recruit direct. For reasons that can be summarised as laziness on the part of personnel (aka Human Resources) departments, and their unwillingness to learn how to filter technical resumes (aka CVs), the entire recruitment process for IT professionals is outsourced to agencies.

    Sadly the induviduals who "work" ( a term used in its loosest possible sense) are even worse at identifying suitable candidates than the HR departments would be. All they do is take a list of keywords dreamed up from deep within the recruiting company and slavishly match them against all the electronic applications they have on file.

    What they happens is some random acts of association. Your CV says "3 years C++", the client asked for 2 years, so you're overqualified. They asked for Javascript experience, you have Java so you get sent on an entirely pointless interview that takes a day of vacation (or sick) time. Turn down an interview prospect and you're labeled "hard to please" and no more opportunities come your way. In fact it's a wonder that any vacancies get filled, that any IT departments get any staff who can actually do the job - rather than fulfill the tick-list the agencies use. In fact the only people who get what they want out of this arrangement are the commission-earning staff, who not only get paid for placing an unsuitable candidate, but then harass that person's previous employer and get paid if they fill the vacancy they created.

  • maybe they're not trying to find a job within 6 month, because...
        * they already have a "side-job" generating enough money
        * they're freelancing
        * working on the black market
        * discovering the opposite sex

  • No secret (Score:3, Informative)

    by Robotron23 (832528) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:13AM (#32770888) Homepage

    It's no secret that the job market in the UK is abysmal at the moment; In the end either through shame, or sheer financial stress, or pride, people will take whatever is on offer - relevant or not. Being unemployed here makes you utterly ashamed; the bureaucratic rigmarole and being looked on as a dole-sponger hardly helps morale when one mails off those resumes. Sucks since you get an absolute pittance to live on and pay it back in taxation in no time: Unemployment is to rise to well over 10% within a few years, in line with massive cuts to public services or private firms who profit from government investment. One simply cannot afford to pick and choose, and even those skeptical in the massive marketing propaganda so common to university campuses across Britain are often surprised by just how grindingly hard it is out there.

    I think it's less of a question whether CS grads find a job than it is whether they find a job relevant to their degree. I never studied CS, but from the guys I know who did I gathered it's one of the more vocational, concentrated degrees. Thus, the few jobs that there are out there in the British market have absolutely no relevance to 98%+ of what they've learned. Bit of a downer when you consider how doing the course requires a lot more passion than 'Media Studies' or 'American Studies' or countless other subjects which, whilst nice as a hobby, rarely translate to a job relevant. CS grads (justifiably) expect something to do with computers for the years of graft they put in. Outsourcing and other issues aside; having to do much more actual work and much less partying than Mr. Arts/Humanities, these geeks count on a true career.

    A lot of people do a subject they 'like' in university here, and its the same across the West. Unfortunately what is liked sometimes translates to low employability and relevance in the job market - the smorgasbord of subjects (hundreds beyond the 'traditional' body of sci/eng/math topics) offered in our universities is testament to how people see education as more of an end than a means, or simply want what they think will be a better/easier time in higher education. But very, very few people go into CS for fun like this; most undergrads are at least somewhat aware of the big bad math skills required to get past the first year of the course; and for this reason most non-geeks avoid it like the bubonic.

    It's the same story for other hard subjects like physics; plenty of grads, no jobs for said grads. A shame because talent gets neglected, as do research proposals which might hold promise - UK science funding is finicky as hell. The issues as to why under-25s have such a hard time getting work are much discussed in the broadsheets of this country; beyond all this endless talk by comfortable journalists in their offices one thing is certain: Along with the disabled the young be the ones feeling most the next 5 years of unrelenting neoliberalism embodied by our Conservative/Liberal Democrat government.

  • by loufoque (1400831) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:13AM (#32770890)

    I got hired even *before* my MSc was finished, without any problem, in a UK-based company that is supposedly very picky about who it takes.
    There are even people who have just a BSc or an MEng and they're on the same payroll as people with MSc.

    The problem is probably that in the field, the degrees are pretty much worthless, and what matters is your actual skill.

  • We have not enough engineers (especially computer scientists) in Germany. Just jump over the channel. However, a bachelor degree is not that well paid in Germany and it is not that easy to get a job with a bachelor (which is in Germany in most universities a 3 year thing, which is considered a better "Vordiplom" which was the mid studies exam in Germany in the last decades). So first get a master (bologna compatible version) and the you get a job here.

  • A few years ago, CS was the major to be in if you wanted a great starting salary. So, a lot of kids with no interest in programming and no real idea what they wanted to do with their lives followed the alleged money. Remarkable as it may seem, there are today a bunch of graduates who aren't very good at computer science but are most upset that companies aren't fawning over them.

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:02AM (#32771338) Homepage

    even much mocked communications and creative arts graduates are finding work more easily.

    ... I'd like some fries with that, please. :P

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

Working...