Around one-third of IT and digital graduates in the UK are dropping out of the sector and failing to convert their qualifications into jobs in IT or computing.
This is one of many key findings of a survey commissioned by IT recruitment company Be-IT, which examined the trends in the industry’s talent pool over the past five years.
The poll also looked at the experience of employers and considered the challenges facing digital technologies industry in Scotland.
The appraisal of the sector, which employs more than 70,000 people, revealed that 32% of participating graduates had either failed to secure a job in the industry or were not working in IT/computing at all. The main reason given for not using a computing science degree to get into an IT job was that “I found it too hard to get a job”.
Many others said they have not yet found a job.
Less than half (43%) of graduates thought their university course was a good preparation for work, 35% said it was neither good or bad, 23% had negative feelings about their course/university with 8% recording “it was very poor and did not prepare me for the world of work”.
One-fifth (20%) of respondents disagreed that their work reflected their abilities/qualifications, while 88% of employers surveyed hire graduates, but only 40% had a formal graduate entry scheme.
Internships were regarded as very valuable, with 53% of graduates having had one. More than three-quarter (87%) of these said their internship was useful, with 55% saying that they “learned a huge amount”.
Increasing digitalisation in business and public services, cyber protection, artificial intelligence, robotics and big data are currently having a big impact on the Scottish and UK market place.
Be-IT CEO Gareth Biggerstaff said: “Digital technologies are at the heart of business in Scotland, and it is vital that we monitor trends and consider the best way to address issues that emerge. Our survey is part of that process.
“There are many aspects of the sector that are performing well, but we must be prepared to adapt and learn. People are the lifeblood of any industry and we have to make sure everything is done to allow the talent to develop. We can’t afford to let skills go to waste.
“In terms of the third of graduates not securing a job in IT, universities need to continually look at the suitability of the degree course and ensure there are embed employer readiness skills within them. Internships likewise for all IT students would enhance uptake into the sector after graduation.”
Rapid business digital transformation and a restricted talent pool are already having a turbulent effect on the Scottish IT jobs sector, according to Be-IT. This, it said, is forcing employers to re-think both recruitment and retention of staff.
Be-IT MD Nikola Kelly said: “This survey shows we cannot be complacent and highlights that there continue to be challenges for our industry to overcome to meet the skills needs of the sector.
“The technology sector is continually expanding and is a major growth opportunity for the Scottish economy, so we have to get this right.”
The survey’s respondents studied at a broad range of universities, including Abertay, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, RGU, St. Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, West of Scotland, UHI, Warwick, Southampton and Sunderland.
Graduates were surveyed over the past five years, in order to cover both recent graduates and those who have begun to establish their careers in IT. The majority (37%) had graduated in 2018, with 7% having graduated in 2013.