A survey by CWJobs and CA Technologies reveals the positive outcomes of the blended business-and-IT degree and the negative impact of higher tuition fees.
Early graduates of ITMB, the blended business and IT degree designed by e-skills and industry, are highly business-focussed and ready to hit the ground running. This was the conclusion of both ITMB undergraduates and future employers who took part in a survey conducted jointly by CWJobs and CA Technologies.
A confident 85% of students believed they were well or very well prepared for the workplace with just 15% expressing doubts about their readiness. Half the employers surveyed echoed this confidence with a further 33% stating that ITMB graduates in particular are well prepared.
Business focus evident
The survey revealed that ITMB student aspirations are strongly oriented towards business, which may leave employers sourcing tech skills elsewhere. The largest group (31%) of students in the sample is aiming for careers in project management with a further 30% aspiring to become consultants.
By contrast, a more modest 11% of recruiters surveyed expected to hire project management talent over the next two years with 23% seeking consultants. Bob Clift, head of the ITMB programme at e-skills, said: “I am very pleased with the students’ ambitions. My personal view is that if students want a very technical career, a traditional computer science course might equip them better”.
Not for techies
Clift’s views are endorsed by the findings about the technical aspirations of ITMB undergraduates: just 1% and 4% respectively of ITMB students are aiming for jobs as infrastructure architects and software developers compared to the 11% and 17% of recruiters who anticipate a need for these skills over the next two years.
Clift was supported in his estimation of the potential of ITMB graduates by software and service supplier, CA Technologies. Colin Bannister, chief technology officer at CA is pleased with the crop of business-savvy and polished ITMB graduates it has hired to date. “The ITMB is clearly attracting the right kind of candidates”, he said.
“As IT becomes more relevant to the business, we are constantly driving our IT team to become more professional in the way that it delivers services”, said Bannister. “The ITMB is unique because the course content is created and monitored by IT employers”, added Bannister.
People skills to the fore
Amy Jawanda, 21, joined CA as a consultant on it associate services programme four months ago. “Amy’s communication skills are exceptional and she understands the importance of networking,” said Bannister. The outcome of this for CA, he believes, is that Amy is better equipped to understand her impact on the business.
One of the modules of the ITMB that has proved useful in her work placement and current job is the people skills module, said Jawanda. “It gives an insight of how to interact with different types of clients and how to present technical information back to a business audience”.
Aside from being employed as a consultant, Amy is representative of the other ITMB students surveyed in that she has opted for a job with an IT supplier. This was the most popular choice (34%) by far, followed by the 21% and 19% respectively that intend to head for the retail and banking sectors after graduation.
Nearly half (49%) of students wish to work for a corporate business, while 22% would prefer to work for a small-to-medium sized outfit. A healthy 12% was interested in joining or founding the higher risk option of a start-up. Unsurprisingly, the public sector scored low (8%) and the not for profit sector even lower (4%).
Higher tuition fees blow
The mini poll of 81 graduates at a recent ITMB event also revealed that the higher tuition fees may have negative impact on the ITMB. The CWJobs survey asked students whether they would have taken the ITMB if they had been subject to the higher tuition fees being introduced in 2012.
Nearly a third (32%) said they wouldn’t, a shock result given that the ITMB degree equips graduates for highly paid roles and even the prospect of a generous ‘golden hello’. “Some students get their loans paid off by their new employers in return for staying for a contracted number of years” explained Jane Burns-Nurse, senior teaching fellow at University College London (UCL).
Good employment prospects
UCL, the biggest ITMB course provider also reports that out of the 43-strong 2010 graduate cohort, just one has yet to find employment. Richard Pettinger, lecturer in UCL’s department of management science and innovation said that staying on track and constantly adapting the course to industry recruiter requirements explains UCL’s high success rate.
“A large part of computer science courses are purely theoretical and we do our best to cut this out for the ITMB students.” Pettinger said that one adaption that UCL had made was to ensure that the project management component was relevant to the IT industry. “This means using real examples from the IT industry and not construction [where PM techniques are derived].”
Search CWJobs for Graduate vacancies