By Vikram Setia, Co-founder and Commercial Director of infoMENTUM
Around this time of year, young people around the UK are receiving their A-level results and making decisions about what to do next. Despite a slump in applications this year, University remains a popular choice for many young people.
Getting a degree is still valuable and, despite the big discussion around a lack of jobs for graduates, I’ve found the problem isn’t always about the shortage of suitable jobs. It can be about the quality of the qualifications graduates leave university with. The main offenders seem to be courses focusing on IT, web development and computing. With technology developing so quickly these courses need to be updated constantly.
Undoubtedly the Government in the UK is making progress in this area. Recent news about pushing to get coding into the classroom gives me hope from enterprise as well. Yet at the moment graduates will still struggle to find jobs unless university courses are updated to support the needs of modern businesses.
We’re always on the hunt for the best talent and have spoken to many British graduates with web development degrees — but many are still without the core skills we need. This means we’ve had to hire from abroad to ensure we’ve got the best talent.
In many areas academia has often lagged behind the workplace but, now more than ever, it appears students are being taught about tech that’s either already redundant or on the way out.
Doing our bit
Not all responsibility of ensuring the next generation is qualified for work rests on the Government; we all have to do our part. I’ve been visiting secondary schools across the UK as part of WorkingKnowledge to talk to young people about working in the IT industry and the skills they’ll require. With more and more schools signing up for these talks, the group’s waiting list is growing, just proving the huge demand for sessions like this.
We even tried to organise a graduate program for students in the UK but the government is too restrictive on our input into the curriculum. It’s not like we’re trying to trick anyone, we sincerely want to help Universities create curriculums that turn into careers.
Here at infoMENTUM we’re the specialists in middleware technology based on Oracle WebCenter, yet we don’t expect our graduates to be trained in Oracle technologies specifically. It’s just that many graduates are leaving university IT courses without acceptable levels of advanced web development knowledge — something that is fundamental to us and hundreds of other IT companies.
Since hiring people from every corner of the world is no longer a difficult process I believe this lack of a properly updated and relevant IT curriculum is forcing companies like us to look elsewhere.
Proof is in the pudding
As infoMENTUM continues to grow we continue to look for the best talent in the world. Unfortunately it isn’t often this comes from the UK and most recently we’ve recruited two exceptionally talented web developers from Belgium. In some cases it seems other countries have already realised the problem and as a result are producing graduates with the right skills.
The recent changes to the primary curriculum are great news for the future of the UK. Yet these changes must continue to happen at the higher levels of education as well. Universities need to talk to industries about what they need from graduates. A lot of research needs to be done by academics speaking to industry analysts and ensuring we’re shaping our future.
Shall we start to panic?
Making a difference to the curriculum of the next generation and helping them shape careers sounds like a humongous task. Yet by working together I’m confident we can all help make it happen before we’re left behind.
It’s all about working alongside the government, academia and enterprise to ensure we’re all stepping up and acting. We need to inspire our young people and show them a future full of opportunity.