The majority of non-computing students perceive that information technology as a career would be "boring".
Currently, IT employers are struggling to fill vacancies, while the number of students applying for IT-related degrees is falling. Research by careers charity Crac shows that, while non-computing students think IT job prospects are good, and have few negative perceptions of IT professionals themselves, 63 percent believe a job in IT would be "boring".
"Over 60 percent of non-computing students cited boring work as the main reason they would not join the sector," stated Crac development director Robin Mellors-Bourne. "Employers should be able to counter that kind of perception. We found that very few of the students hold negative perceptions about the IT profession or its people."
The British Computer Society called on employers to encourage students to study ICT through work-experience schemes.
"Greater exposure of young people to the merits of a job in the IT sector is vital. We need to show them the variety of roles in IT and the importance that IT carries today. IT is at the heart of business these days and there are real opportunities now to have a career in IT which will ultimately lead to a position on the board," said Mike Rodd, learned society director at BCS.
Crac also said that under-representation of women in IT is likely to worsen rather than improve. The percentage of female applicants for IT degree courses fell from 18 percent to 15 percent between 2001 and 2007, and female students of computer science as an A-Level fell from 14 percent to 10 percent over the same period.
However, the proportion of females undertaking ICT A-Levels, which tend to be based on user skills, has risen to around 40 percent between 2001 and 2007. Crac said that, despite the under-representation of females as students for ICT qualifications, they "outperform male students, in terms of results, at all levels".