IT employers look for business skills

Firms are hiring more business-aware staff as an alternative to taking on computer science graduates, according to a new report

Employers are rejecting applications from computer science graduates in favour of candidates with more business and interpersonal skills according to new research. The report, Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2002/3 by careers publisher GTI, surveyed 50 IT organisations over the last four years. The demand for computer scientists has fallen in the last four years from 73 percent to 31 percent, according to the report. Chris Philips, UK publishing director at GTI, says: "In a hard market, graduates with technical degrees are the first to be affected. A feature of the recession is that employers are looking for people with interpersonal, business and client-facing skills. Universities are now running computer science degrees combined with business and interpersonal skills." Other findings in the report are that in 2001, despite the economic downturn, the number of graduate vacancies in the IT sector increased. However, in 2002, there was been a significant drop in employers' IT graduate intake. The pessimistic outlook from employers was reflected in the decline of the average number of vacancies advertised by employers -- from 165 in 2001 to 142 in 2002. A combination of the vast number of IT courses churning out graduates and desperation to find jobs has led to applications for jobs increasing from 2,781 per employer in 2001 to 3,161 in 2002. The number of applications per vacancy has also increased from 17 per vacancy in 2001 to 22 in 2002. Those graduates fortunate enough to find employment had an average starting salary of £24,764, up from £22,716 in 2001. For graduates hoping to gain work experience, opportunities are getting slimmer with places declining for two years running. Employers offering placements have fallen from 79 percent two years ago to 64 percent in 2002.

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