Training and qualifications are just part of the picture. It’s how you continue to enhance your proposition that matters to employers.
A career in ICT looks like a good bet right now as the number of jobs in the sector is growing at four times the median for other industry sectors. The even better news is that you don’t need a computer science degree to get a job: consider Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, both college drop-outs who built their computing empires from the family garage.
If you're planning to take a degree, then science or any computer-related degree (plus the relevant experience and aptitude) will place you at the head of the queue when it comes to the 110,000 jobs expected to be handed out this year. However, government agency e-skills points out that 45% of the graduates who enter the profession do so without a computing-related degree. IBM, for one, is famous for allegedly awarding an extra recruitment point to applicants with a music degree.
Which computing degree?
A computing degree that combines business experience will find favour with employers. E-skills launched its Information Technology Management for Business Degree (ITMB) after consultation with 50 employers; the first cohort graduates this year. Two universities offering ITMB said in a March survey that 84% of 2010 final year students had already secured employment with companies including Accenture, IBM, McKinsey, Deloitte, PWC, Microsoft and BSkyB.
What kind of placement?
If you’re not on a sandwich course, doing a business secondment will also boost your chances of converting a humanities degree into a job in IT. Karen Price, CEO of e-skills recommends work experience in any field that is annexed by the word management. “It’s a kind of shorthand for the skills that employers are seeking: People management change management or programme management experience will all make graduates attractive to ICT employers.”
How can you raise your profile?
If you don’t manage to secure a job immediately after graduation, there are things you can do to enhance your professional profile, says Adam Thilthorpe, director of professionalism at the British Computer Society (BCS). "Join a professional body. It’s a reflection of your professionalism but more important, it will put you in touch with a network of experienced people who may be able to help you. It’s an incredibly useful thing and the networking piece will serve you well throughout your career."
What value is supplier certification?
Studying for and gaining added certification will also benefit your chances on the jobs market. Microsoft’s MCSE and Cisco’s CCNA family of qualifications are among the best-known supplier certificates. Additionally, vendor-neutral schemes such as ISEP are highly rated:“ISEP provides a good grounding in an area where there will be a big requirement in the future” confirms BCS’ Thilthorpe.
What about school leavers?
School leavers can join an apprenticeship and earn while they earn and more small businesses are hiring apprentice developers. Apprenticeships are about to get a lot higher profile under the new Government, predict some industry watchers: a future higher-level apprenticeship will deliver a degree-level qualification for those who want to learn on the job rather than in an academic setting, and enable employers to grow their own graduates.