| 12.5°C Belfast

We are failed by our universities say IT graduates

Less than 30% of people believe local universities give students the skills and knowledge they need to secure an IT job when they graduate.

And almost 60% of respondents to a survey by a local recruitment company said they felt strongly that IT salaries in Northern Ireland aren't in line with the rest of the UK taking into account the cost of living and regional factors.

The poll of the Northern Ireland technology sector, undertaken by recruitment firm Brightwater NI, showed that 81% of respondents thought that continued inward investment has been a good thing for the local economy with around 7.1% responding that it puts a real strain on recruiting skilled staff.

Around 79% said that more students needed to be attracted into computing-related courses to meet the demand for skilled staff.

Only 28% of those surveyed felt that local universities give students the skills and knowledge they need to secure an IT job when they graduate.

Michelle Kearns, commercial director of Brightwater NI, said the prevalent theme was that while there are more graduates available, the percentage of graduates with high-level programming skills has gone down.

"There is still a large gap between what the universities teach and what happens in the real world", she said.

"A total of 81% of respondents asserted that graduates need to be better prepared in terms of what employers are looking for; chiefly that they need to be equipped with stronger technical and practical coding skills.

"There was also a general consensus that students need to be better prepared for interview.

"This is something which has become increasingly important in recent years, with the interview process now covering myriad skills such as technical questions, technical tests, detailed company research and competency based questions

"There appears to be a consensus that local IT companies need to work together to collaborate more effectively with the universities to produce graduates who are more fully equipped to meet the commercial realities of the market.

"Are we moving towards the US model where employers offer scholarships to IT students through universities or do IT leaders locally need to force this issue by assisting local universities in terms of funding to expand current degree places within IT?"