UK CS graduates more likely to be unemployed

UK CS graduates more likely to be unemployed

Summary: Zack Whittaker was on compassionate leave when this was posted; posted offline and scheduled to release during this week.People over the years have said to me, "computers are the future; you'll end up getting a great job with wads of money.

TOPICS: Hardware, CXO

Zack Whittaker was on compassionate leave when this was posted; posted offline and scheduled to release during this week.

People over the years have said to me, "computers are the future; you'll end up getting a great job with wads of money." I'm not a money person, to be honest; I think my CV over the last couple of years proves that to some extent. But with new information from The Guardian, it seems computer science graduates are less likely to be employed, than any other subject.


Now, this could mean anything to anybody; it's just a list of graduate degrees with numbers attached. I'll elaborate and explain, in my crazy student-minded ways.

The table represents the "percentage of UK and EU domiciled first degree qualifiers assumed to be unemployed by subject area, 2002-03 to 2006-07". This roughly translated means, "the percentage of those who live in the United Kingdom and those in European Union countries, who have earned a degree and are presumed to be not in employment, with figures ranging between 2002 and 2007."

"Unemployed" you say? What if you carry on earning another qualification? What if that graduate died? So many questions asked about the validity of the figures, so another explanation is needed.

The figures take into account what the student classed themselves as. Some are just out of university and need a break, some are looking for work, and some are going on to earn a masters or doctorate qualification. It also takes into account part-time study, research with fellow graduates or professors at the university, but also those who were presently unemployed - regardless of the fact they might actually be starting a job in the coming weeks.

So even with all this - why are recently-graduated computer science students so unlikely to get work in relation to other subjects? You know what... I haven't got the foggiest. The results surprised even me. Leave comments, thoughts, opinions and ideas - because for the life of me, I don't know why computer scientists with all their skills could possibly not be needed or wanted.

Topics: Hardware, CXO

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  • If you're any good, I wouldn't worry about it

    My first question is whether that study takes into account whether people were employed in their actual field of study?

    Ie, does a job at McDonalds classify as being 'employed' or does every psychology major actually end up with a job in psychology?

    Second, "I don?t know why computer scientists with all their skills could possibly not be needed or wanted."

    There are tons of poor programmers pumped out of universities and they are just not in demand. If you're writing systems designed to automate processes, do you think those systems need to be as well developed as possible, or can they be poorly developed? Those in demand are top developers which good firms usually fight over, poor developers are usually left behind.

    If you're any good, I wouldn't worry about it. I graduated in 2004 (albeit in Canada) with a degree in Software Engineering at the height of the e-commerce bust. Many of us were fearful that jobs were limited and that those that did exist were going to be outsourced to india/china. At the time I was wondering if I should seek out a different career and almost did. It took most of us a while to find a decent job but from those I've talked to, all of us who were decent developers ended up doing quite well, myself included.

    As I've suggested, if you're any good, you won't have to be worried about being unemployed. It just might take some time to prove that you've got talent as often times, university knowledge alone doesn't cut it and you'll need to get some solid experience under your belt to add to your worth.
    Denis Pitcher
  • CS is a broad topic

    Could it be that students of the more 'popular' niche's of CS have flooded the market, while CS jobs which are in demand remain without qualified graduates?

    I'm just at the end of my degree, so I have a somewhat vested interest in the topic. Albeit, in another continent.
  • Outdated skills maybe or too futuristic?

    Could it be that whatever the students are thought is outdated with the current hardware technology or could it the reverse as to the fact that the market is not yet ready for whatever is made available to students in what they can learn during there studies.

    In some articles I read here and there it seems to me that some basics are ignored during the schooling years in which students start with the language like C++ w/o a good understanding of the underlying structure C which can break the coding process.

    Another thing that might be an issue is the fact it seems technology is going faster then what people code today. (Multicore / multithreading and the like).

    One of my biggest rant would be that hardware would fully support x64 programing in the x86 spectrum of computerhardware while x32bit kernels still rule.

    Innovation is a good thing if the market does allow this and just maybe this is what keeps the newly schooled students out of a job as they either are though "old school" coding or the market is not yet ready to embrace the newest hardware features and thinking processes.

    Just my ramblings. Either way I would assume students are not on par to what the market can or has to offer.
    • course sequence variations

      Take a look at the IEEE/ACM curriculum recommendations
      for CS and SWE. They recognize that there are
      disagreements over the best sequence.

      Some want to jump straight into OO in order to make
      those ways of thinking habitual, so, they start with Java or
      C++ or Smalltalk or Objective-C.

      I prefer starting with machine language, showing the logic
      circuits and such, and then moving to assembly language,
      then to C, then Objective-C.

      Some of the recommendations start with B-school style
      "This is a computer." classes that reach "This is a spread-
      sheet." by week 10. Well, they're not really quite as bad as
      MIS and trade displacement classes, but they do start with
      a very shallow and wide introduction with lots of hand-
      waving for as much as two semesters before getting to the
      real stuff.
  • There is a large difference between CS and IT skills.

    I know many people with degrees in CS who, while understanding computer technology, have no real technology skills. They have some type of basic programming and have pretty much forgotten that. They expected to graduate and walk into some kind of IT director job, or a CIO their first job.
    How is someone like that supposed to work their way up the ranks, if they can't even get into the ranks at the bottom?
    Previously, with the rise of IT departments, people with no Tech skills, but good management experience were put in charge of ranks of programmers, support, and hardware specialists. Maybe, they grabbed a new CS grad as a manager. NOW THOSE programmers and specialists are becoming directors, managers and such. They have the experience AND the skills.
    Computers Science departments in colleges today are teaching only a little differently than 10-15 years ago. (Meanwhile, the last CS graduate hired by my company lasted 3 weeks, because he knew next to nothing about Computers (or Science )... sad, very sad)
    • CS != IT

      Yes, IT is much more broad, and includes those with MIS
      and IT and IS degrees, even, to some, CE and EE and SWE
      degrees. I see them as 3 clusters, 3 fields, really. And, of
      course, there are different industries and fields of
      employment -- scientific, engineering, econometrics,
      statistics (actuarial, social research...), accounting...

      As you mention, some waste their CS degrees. Others
      earn degrees in music or classics or psychology and make
      great software product developers, software architects,
      software engineers, programmers, systems administrators
      and such.

      It is also interesting that you make a general complaint "he
      knew next to nothing about Computers or Science" and yet
      we've been seeing hyper-credentialism and overly specific
      job requirements over the last couple decades, with many
      capable and willing people being rejected out of hand --
      especially by recruiters who only know the literal buzz-
      words they're given and not what any of them mean. I'm
      curious to know more specifically what knowledge and
      abilities you were expecting. Are you big on formal
      methods? Do your people make a point of using the
      scientific method in their work? Are you designing
  • Relative percentage of total?

    What percent of the total graduates does each field represent? In the U.S. it has been known since the mid-70s that a liberal arts degree is essentially worthless. Hence, few people seek only a liberal arts degree. Those who do often wind up with low-paying jobs that don't require a degree. There is a school in the U.S. that only teaches Naval Architecture. All students receive full scholarships. All students have jobs before they graduate. They graduate 17 students per year. There is very little demand for Naval Architects.

    Also, how many are intentionally unemployed? A number of years ago I was at a temp agency when the recruiter was speaking to a senior COBOL programmer. She told him she had a temp assignment but it "only" paid US$45 per hour. He told her he could not take less than $70 per hour. It is much more likely that a CS major will be temporarily unemployed while looking for a well-paying job than a liberal arts grad, teacher, etc., which offer far fewer opportunities.
    • being a body shopped != being employed

      Yah, COBOL was obsolete 35 years ago. But what was he
      making before he was dumped? Where was he living?
      He's probably savvy enough to know that, given an hourly
      rate by a body shopper, he has to jack up his rate to allow
      funds for continuing education/training, to cover times
      between gigs when he's not paid at all, whatever insurance
      used to be covered by his employer, personal retirement
      investment, etc. On average, bodies shopped receive
      lower total compensation on an annual and decade-long
      and life-time basis than people with real, full-time
      permanent employment.

      The BLS stats show that, generally, historically, people
      with degrees, and certainly people with master's, doctor's,
      or professional degrees (DDS, MD, JD) tend to have more
      secure employment and a little better pay. But that's been
      upset in the Clinton-Bush depression. We've got people
      with science PhDs having trouble landing steady
      employment (universities and government research
      institutes prefer cheap H-1Bs and foreign graduate
      student assistants and post-docs and adjuncts).

      And people with BSCS degrees have been suffering
      unemployment (and under-employment that doesn't let
      them make full use of their talent, knowledge and
      education) in stretches that last 3, 4, and 7 years.
  • RE: UK CS graduates more likely to be unemployed

    India. The hard skills are no longer needed or valued in the western developed nations because the work can be offshored to India at a fraction of the cost. Why is everyone dancing around this? Just admit it and move on. If you are just starting college, choose a different area of study. Problem solved.