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Poor Information on Career Opportunities is Costing Students Jobs, CompTIA Survey Reveals
03/03/12 10:03 AM

Nearly half of young people are missing out on career opportunities due to a lack of information from schools and universities, and despite having the skills employers want, according to a new survey by CompTIA, the non-profit trade association for the information technology (IT) industry.

CompTIA surveyed more than 1,000 students to understand what motivates them. The survey is part of a drive to address the huge skills gap in IT and technology careers. The sample consisted of 1,057 interviews with students at 119 Higher Education institutions representative of the UK HE population in terms of gender, year group and university type.

The vast majority of respondents showed themselves to have skills employers want:

  • are hard working (89 %),
  • quick learners (79%),
  • good at solving problems (76%),
  • have communication skills (71%) and
  • are able to work in a team (78%).

The new research reveals that only 13% feel their education institutions have fully equipped them to make career decisions. 41% of students do not feel well-informed about the range of careers open to them.

Furthermore, most students are ambitious with a clear idea of what they expect from their future professions. A good salary (85%), variety (66%) and ongoing development (62%) are the most important considerations.

CompTIA terms these people MEMOs - Motivated, Educated and Missing Out. MEMOs have the right skills and ambitions for a successful career but lack information about the opportunities open to them and how to get there.

Respondents in the CompTIA survey want schools and universities to do a lot more to help them understand career options:

  • 55% want information integrated into school lessons about what careers different subjects can lead to
  • 61% feel they need more information about careers other than those directly related to their field of study
  • 51% want better careers advice at school or university.

This trend is particularly notable in IT and technology, which is struggling to attract the 110,400 new entrants a year it needs to keep up with the industry's growth. The IT industry contributes 81bn pounds Sterling towards the UK's economy and could contribute an additional 50bn pounds Sterling over the next five to seven years if it can find the recruits (Technology Insights 2011 - e-skills).

The skills and interests listed by students are exactly those needed by the IT profession. In line with the general findings, the research highlights a lack of understanding of the routes into IT and technology careers and what they involve.

A significant proportion (36%) assume they need an IT or related degree. Whilst true of some areas such as programming, in most areas industry training and certifications have proven successful, low cost entry routes for thousands of school leavers and non-tech graduates.

Outdated perceptions are still held. The CompTIA survey finds 17% see IT careers as sitting in a backroom with little or no social contact. Concern about the role of school lessons in providing career insight is particularly high here, with only 5% saying IT lessons gave them an understanding of what an IT or related career involves.

Also, 18% of students are very interested in working in IT or technology. A further 23% said they might be interested if they knew more about it; and 44% say they aspire to a career working with the latest technology.

CompTIA has launched a Facebook page for students who think they are motivated, educated and missing out, and interested in exploring whether IT might be a career for them: http://www.facebook.com/ITCareersUK

CompTIA on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/comptia.

About CompTIA

CompTIA is the voice of the world's information technology (IT) industry.

As a non-profit trade association advancing the global interests of IT professionals and companies, CompTIA is the recognized authority for IT education and credentials and the primary advocate for IT businesses and workers. Through its foundation, CompTIA also enables disadvantaged populations to gain the skills they need for employment in the IT industry. CompTIA's vision of the IT landscape is shaped by more than 25 years of global perspective and more than 2,000 members and 1,000 business partners.

For more information, visit http://www.comptia.org

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