Companies should promote IT careers 'with work experience'

Businesses can do a lot more to help promote careers in IT, according to the head of City University’s computing department.

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Businesses can do a lot more to help promote careers in IT, according to the head of City University’s computing department.  

Dr Andrew Tuson told Computerworld UK that industry should offer work experience at all levels, from primary schools to university.

“Industry should act as role models, working with BCS (the Chartered Institute for IT), to show people what an exciting and interesting career it is, and what studying IT can do,” he said.

Dr Andrew Tuson’s comments come in light of a Royal Society report, which found that school children found IT lessons boring and that fewer children are taking IT GCSEs and A-Levels.

He also encouraged businesses to support the Royal Society’s new study into how the curriculum and exams can be improved to encourage more students to take IT subjects, saying: “We need a very good debate.”

Tuson, a long-time campaigner for better school IT education, welcomed the Royal Society’s recent report, describing it as “timely” and “very much needed”.

“There have been concerns about how IT is taught in schools. For example, the OFSTED report last year was quite damning about the teaching of IT in schools. There is not a clear difference between use of IT and IT as a career,” he said.

The lack of differentiation means that some students who decide to take up computing courses at university level have a “distorted” view of what the degree will actually be about.

“They don’t know where the career goes,” said Tuson.

According to Tuson, school-level IT education, with its focus on teaching students how to use IT packages, rather than developing IT skills, is putting intelligent students off.

He said they were also being put off because schools are pushing weaker students to take IT as an easier way to achieve qualifications, which is significant because Tuson believes that the industry needs the “best and the brightest”.

Although Tuson insisted that it was what IT teachers were being asked to teach that was the problem, not the teachers themselves, he said that there will be some retraining needed for teachers – and admitted that this might be expensive.

A recent study found that UK graduates who studied computer science are the most unlikely to find work.

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