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back to article CIOs: Don't listen to tech vendors on ICT skills, listen to US

An alliance of CIOs at some of the biggest companies and organisations operating in Britain has issued a call to action, saying that it's time the government stops listening to technology firms on IT issues and starts paying attention to the people that actually use the technology. A new report from the Education and Skills …

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Silver badge

Couldn't agree more

> starts paying attention to the people that actually use the technology.

And who actually uses the technology? Not the CIOs, locked away in the executive suite, so they don't have to come into contact with the icky, nasty "sharp end" of reality. Maybe the group the government should be listening to are the experienced IT workers (the ones the CIOs say are in short supply - wonder why that could be - surely not because of the CIOs lack of training investment? )who know what needs to be done and how to do it, irrespective of what the vendors or the chief executives might think.

The problem with this suggestion is that the answer might not be what the government wants to hear. I would suggest they want an attaboy for their current policies and some reorganisational changes that cost nothing, but look like progress - possibly with a few seats on a few boards for when their parliamentary careers are over. However I suspect the people who know would tell them all the unpalatable (i.e. expensive) truths - and worse: do it in public.

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Bronze badge

"Important aspects of Computer Science and Information Technology teaching and learning are being compromised by the need to maintain a secure network – in the same way that health and safety myths are holding back practical science."

Like what? I'd be very interested to know where and when IT security of a network involving children's data and access to communication facilities with them trumps them being able to pass an A-Level and exactly where they conflict to the point that education suffers.

Unless, of course, you're counting wanting to "do everything" on a machine, install plugins from every content manufacturer that wants admin access to your machine to administer a test in Flash, or where filtering of pornography stops students getting onto sites they need to use. Because, obviously, those things are VITAL and MUST BE DONE THAT WAY. <end sarcasm>

I mean, seriously - if there's any hindrance here, ALL schools, universities, government departments and businesses will also be similarly hindered, and thus that's perfect training for students not to expect to be able to do those things.

Or is that just a sponsored message from your local junk educational software producer (who've only just got out of the habit of using Quicktime and still haven't grasped network paths yet).

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Anonymous Coward

It's usually just an excuse those responsible for the network cook up to avoid having to do the work it'd take to put a proper suite of hardware and software in place. Can't blame them really, as they're usually underskilled and underfunded for the job. On the other side of the coin, no school is going to challenge that judgement because computing qualifications at school aren't worth wiping your arse with. Computing is very definitely seen as a "soft" A Level; unis would much rather their students took further maths or another hard science instead.

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Isn't this the sort of thing the Raspberry Pi was cooked up for? Mess the OS up all you like, then you have to learn fix it or reinstall it...

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Bronze badge

And so breed a generation of coders that think you need to reformat machines every time they exhibit the tiniest of bugs. Lovely. Exactly my point.

P.S. How are you going to install to download and install the OS on the RPi machine in the first place, how are you going to get it to receive updates, how are you going to follow online tutorials for it, how are you going to make sure the kids can't just brute-force passwords or attempt DDoS on the servers using their lovely £20 machines with network connectivity, or spamming the Internet because they "downloaded a project" for the Raspberry Pi that turns them into spam-spewing zombies, how are you going to stop them bypassing filters, etc.etc.etc?

By having decent security on the network to detect and/or block such activity no matter what machine tries to do it - which is necessary anyway, so what have we achieved? Nothing. This is the entire problem with BYOD, by the way - sure it can work, but what you're basically doing is APPLYING SECURITY so that it doesn't cause you legal or technical problems when used from an unsecured machine (which is kinda a daft thing to do, but that's not my problem because I don't do it). A school was fined hundreds of thousands of pounds not-so-long-ago for having a laptop stolen that was unencrypted and had children's reports on it - there wasn't even a suggestion that anyone actually has that data or has distributed it elsewhere or caused any damage from that data leak. We're not even talking highly-sensitive data (school reports usually contain name and a brief summary of their progress from their teachers - not even their address or anything related to medical / psychological problems they may have), and they did all the reporting of the theft as prescribed by law. The encryption (and subsequent password management, and security ensuring the staff member doesn't "unencrypt" even quite harmless data by putting it onto a USB stick and leaving that in their car - which has ALSO been prosecuted) is there for a reason - and to be honest, it causes me problems and I'd love to be able to do without it for client machines.

Fact is, computer systems in schools (and businesses) are like that because they contain data that needs to be protected and which can't be passed off to cloud systems, can't be easily put into the hands of third-parties without explicit contracts, can't be unavailable - e.g. emergency medical information on children and/or required exam coursework for them to work on that happens to come under the DPA. There are legal requirements to store and protect that data for years (and if a kid has a photograph with a name attached to it, or even some information about themselves like, say, a test CV - that's "personal data" under the terms of the DPA, so we're not just talking about things on the "admin" network here, but the "curriculum" network that the kids use too), and doing so in accordance with various laws which mean passing it off to a third-party cloud host in the Bahamas doesn't let you off, and in fact gets you into more trouble.

Even letting a single rogue host onto an unsecured network that can get access to something it shouldn't can be defined as a failure to protect that data (even if it's the kids' own work, on a kids-only network, from kids-only hardware!), and can be prosecuted - which is where basic network security comes in in terms of approving applications and plugins, limiting users, blocking off the Internet, keeping on top of antivirus and vulnerabilities, etc. comes in.

Fact is, there's nothing that CAN'T be done on a properly secured network, otherwise there would be no point trying to secure the network at all (hell, virtualise everything, if it comes to it!). It just has to be done in consultation with your IT people and with due care and process. Thus why I call horse-manure on this particular quote. If security is interfering with your ability to teach ICT, you're teaching ICT badly or your IT people are failing in their job. But if there's NO security at all, in the name of not interfering in lessons, your IT people will be disappearing so that they aren't named on court proceedings when it comes to a DPA violation and your external providers will all have clauses that mean they are immune or that it's your problem, not theirs, that little Johnny's personal details just got splatted all over his friend's Facebook pages, traced to a school dataset).

Want a school that doesn't have basic security applied? BYE!

Want a school that has lessened security because of perceived "problems" on the user end? Slippery-slope into all-users-being-admin areas, and inevitably you'll find holes everywhere that you can't stop without being as strict as the average school network security policy anyway (that's WHY those policies are that strict as a minimum).

Think that end-users are hindered in their use of a properly-configured computer on a properly-secured network? Tell your software manufacturers, especially educational ones, to pull their fingers out and not require admin access, local installation, out-of-date Quicktime and Shockwave etc. browser plugins, in order to show three croaking frogs on the screen and let the user click one of them to be directed to an external website that runs Java plugins and hasn't been updated in years. Then see how "necessary" it was to change security policies to stop "hindering users".

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I did say learn to fix it OR reinstall. Sometimes it is easier to reinstall/reimage rather than spend days trying to track down the problem when an OS goes awry.

I think it is a bit of a leap to think that that would produce a generation of coders whose first course of action on seeing a problem with their code is to reinstall. I would think those tinkering with the OS are more likely to mess up the OS than those learning to code.

>P.S. How are you going to install to download and install the OS on the RPi machine in the first place?

On a machine that allows SD cards to be re-imaged? Anyone who has bought a Raspberry Pi without a pre imaged SD card will have had to do this. It isn't a big hardship.

>How are you going to get it to receive updates?

Depends on whether you need the updates or not, which depends on the network you are connected to if you are connected at all.

>how are you going to follow online tutorials for it?

In a class room I would think on a projector/whiteboard/handout/book/laptop/tablet.

>How are you going to make sure the kids can't just brute-force passwords or attempt DDoS on the servers using their lovely £20 machines with network connectivity?

They don't need to be connected to a network to learn basic programming, but if they are, in the same way that you mitigate those risks on any network. If you really want to demonstrate networking or program network apps then hook them into a switch that isn't connected to anything else...

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IT Angle

yeah - but

It's much easier to listen to those nice salesmen people - the things they say sound just like the things I want to hear.

All those so-called experts - they just make my head hurt with their three and four (and sometimes more) syllable words.

I said to that nice salesman - "I need the idiots guide to this stuff" and he was most helpful saying that they had already prepared just such a thing and it was called - "Computers and other shiney things - a guide for gumint people (KS2)"

So Mr so-called technical expert - when you can get everything I need to now about computers in a single glossy brochure no more than 4 pages long and made up mostly of pictures of swoopy red lines then maybe I might listen to you too (if you make it worth my while).

Yours

Mr A Moeba - Minister for sums and long words

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Skills Shortage

Has anybody ever encountered An Important Person announce that there is a skills surplus in a particular industry?

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Re: Skills Shortage

No.

Just today - North Sea Oil jobs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-21003704

"Kevin Forbes, from Oilandgaspeople.com, said: "Our forecast shows that with increased investment in North Sea Oil, demand for qualified staff is set to reach an all time high, which will exacerbate an already serious skills shortage, a problem that is being further exacerbated as UK candidates head abroad to earn even higher wages with a huge demand for qualified expats globally."

It seems market forces and classical economics do not apply to the British region - that skill shortages leads to increased pay. Why is is this?

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Meh

Re: Skills Shortage

For some reason (in the UK) a highly skilled technical person cant possibly earn more than his manager!

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Silver badge

Re: Skills Shortage

> For some reason (in the UK) a highly skilled technical person cant possibly earn more than his manager!

Which is why contracting was invented. It's a kludge, but if you want to employ staff outside of the constraints of a salary structure intended for administration staff (not IT admin) with no tangible outputs or profit margin, then subbies are the way to go. Even if some of them don't produce anything of worth, either.

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the way ICT is taught

I agree this needs to be reformed a hell of a lot. When I was at school a mere decade ago (holy crap it's been that long?) we were effectively taught "this is how you crete a folder, this is how you use access which you'll never touch again, this is how you make a formula in excel which you might touch again... okay that's all I know" I managed to complete the equivalent of the entire years work on the first day of lessons and had nothing else to do for the rest of the year. But splitting it into 3 isn't the answer.

We have too many subjects as it is. I'd be more in favour of consolidating other subjects and introducing ICT to enable more use. I mean ICT literacy? If they're using these computers daily in other subjects they'll learn this anyway, no need for a seperate subject.

Have a short course on ICT which covers the basics of operation in the first few weeks which most should already know, and then go into other useful areas for people like maintanence, parts, putting together a computer, installing an OS. The stuff the majority of people will eventually have to do and a lot of older folks seem to be afraid of.

Then have the long course of ICT where thsoe who want a career in ICT can learn about computer science, maybe some more in depth stuff to help prepare them for a higher level course, a basic java lesson perhaps. But creating 3 differnt ICT courses is just silly.

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Silver badge

Re: the way ICT is taught

T'was ever thus.

30years ago we were taught - this is how you load the Basic interpreter on an RML380Z

- this is how you write a program in BASIC to print "Baz is a wanker" up the screen.

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Silver badge

The way kids get into CS...

Currently very few kids are really exposed to CS at school. It is improving, but is nowhere near being there yet. There have been some interesting developments of late, but unfortunately it will take some while to train up teachers.

The problem with leading kids to CS via ICT is that they are very different skill sets with very different aptitudes. Knowing how to wiggle a mouse or make a spreadsheet is no indication of whether you'll be any good at programming. Far too many kids end up in CS because they think they're so hot at updating their Facebook profile that they *must* be good at anything to do with computers. No wonder then that 1st year CS tends to have a very high failure rate.

The majority of people will never need to install an OS. Nor do maintenance. If anything these needs are decreasing with the upsurge of mobile devices.

ICT (computer usage) needs to be separated from CS (programming etc) just like baking needs to be separated from chemistry,

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mid-level types

The real shortage is of experienced "mid level" types as opposed to newbies

Businesses themselves are the problem here - and the company I work for is as guilty as the rest. We want to hire people with a minimum of 3-5 years experience and have little interest in taking on new graduates. There is a shortage of such people.

Meanwhile, for about 3-5 years, there has been a good number of computer science (etc) graduates unable to gain employment.

The only way for businesses to gain people with real-world experience is for businesses to be willing to employ newbies and train them up, not just poach them off other businesses.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mid-level types

I can't help but think this is in part due to the workplace eco-system being disrupted by offshoring of entry level roles. Without entry level positions, people don't gain the necessary experience or direction to become more experienced mid-level staff without taking ridiculously low salaries.

So what happens is the young guns move into roles that pay the bills that are perhaps less technically challenging and then allow their ability to erode away over time.

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Anonymous Coward

Pay

How about this problem. Programmers in many areas are paid the same amount as the average highstreet store worker gets in london.

Example, job offered in bournmouth was paying 16k to work 37.5h a week. (junior software engineer) £8.23 per hour

Nike store in london was offering £8.20 (i believe) per hour for 37.5h a week.

Aldi in Weymouth was offering £8.56 per hour for 37.5h a week.

So as a junior software engineer, having spent 4 years in uni, accumulating by todays standards around 36k + in debt, I get a job that pays the same as a nike store in london, and less than aldi.

Gee that seems like a good deal to me. If we got a competative wage there probably wouldn't be as much hassle finding people who want the jobs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pay

16k does sound low, but playing devils: Junior sw devs are a bit of a gamble, so once they've given a good year or two the salary will ramp up. In 10 years that employee should easily be on between double-triple that, if not more. In contrast, the nike store employee will still be on a similar wage for yeeeears.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pay

Does make it difficult to entice people into an industry when a year 1 solicitor will earn £35-40k outside of London and probably more in London. A pharmacist with a 3rd class degree will probably get £40k straight out of Uni,.

etc etc

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Re: Pay

Sounds about 2/3rds going rate. But at least there will be sun and sand (well sand anyway) and plenty of gandmas/gandpas on the look out for a young un.

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Devil

Re: Pay

They don't want a UK grad.

What the company there is doing is advertising a job in the UK on crummy terms so that they can then legitimately advertise the job internationally and get someone in from abroad on the cheap, citing "skills shortages" in the area.

Call their bluff. Go for it. My guess is that it costs less to live in Bournemouth than London and at least you would get a years experience before leaving for something better paid.

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Re: Pay

Dorset has always been particularly poor on wages. I don't really know why. Someone once suggested that as it was such a nice place to live that employers could pay less as people really wanted to live here.

Last week: 3rd line MCSE - £18-22k

Server Support - £20-25k

1st Line Support - £15-20k

Tech Support Engineer - £18k

The last one a particularly amusing to read as the requirements are asking for a hell of a lot for £18k

Essential Functions

• Fields email and phone requests for technical product support from customer/​users and resellers.​

• Provides support to sales force and sales engineers

• Assists with product testing, troubleshoots and replicates issues

• Contributes to knowledge base and technical product documentation

• Performs training of users, customers, and resellers

• Meets and exceeds customer satisfaction targets

Qualifications

• Two to five years of technical support experience in computer software industry

• MCTS or equivalent

• Expert knowledge of MS Windows client and server OS

• Additional skills: Linux and Linux mail servers, MS Exchange, MAC OSX, Lotus Domino

• Detailed knowledge of networking applications and standards

• Experience with antivirus and firewall is desired

• Excellent communication, problem solving and customer service skills

• Attention to detail and ability to multi-task

I say amusing, but really it is a case of either laughing or breaking down in tears at the state of IT job prospects in general.

This is a real job ad: http://jobview.monster.co.uk/GetJob.aspx?JobID=117834224&aid=49525845&WT.mc_n=JSAHG10 - well I say real, it may just be a fishing exercise for a job agency for all I know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pay

Graduated in 2008, first job (in the education sector as an E-learning administrator aka crock of shite with a boss with a background in aromatherapy and Indian head massage whose IT experience was husband did something with computers) 15k, onto 4th proper post uni job and now on more than triple that.

I guess if you prove yourself then pay ain't an issue but you will have to spend a year or 2 proving yourself. That said i seriously question the value of a degree if you can teach yourself (as i did) then you will get next to nothing from a degree other than hangovers and debt, especially given the fact that some of my graduating cohort were mystified by switch statements or basic OO concepts, then again to be eligible to be a key holder i.e. trusted to open or close a high street shop you need a degree, IMHO its more a question of quality not quantity...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pay

" a competative wage" It is, by definition, a competitive wage. If the positions weren't filled at that price, they'd be offering more.

The problem with this whole discussion is that everyone generalises skill sets.

I can get an (academically) experienced programmer CompSci straight out of uni for 20k just because he wants to stay in the area. If he stays on web gui work, he's unlikely to get a pay rise for a year or two. Move on to PHP, he'll get a little pay rise at the end of the year. Java - a bit more. Scala - a bit more again. On the other hand, if he can demonstrate an ability to manage his time and work well, he'll quickly find himself managing others, at which point the salary opens up.

And if he starts to show a greater level of domain knowledge then his superiors... they'll fire him instantly...

Seriously: skill set + domain knowledge + being able to manage yourself = big bucks.

I think the mistake a lot of people make is thinking that Uni pushes you into the white collar world. This hasn't been the case for about 15 years.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

CIO Agenda

Lets not forget that the CIO agenda would also include a wish to drive down the cost of employing IT staff locally as low as possible - ie by creating a surplus of experienced employee's

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Unhappy

Re: CIO Agenda

Putting the really cynical hat on, one could argue that for the entire graduate job market...

1) There's a big salary advantage in having a degree. (The argument for student fees)

2) That goes down the more people who have one. (Something to do with supply and demand)

3) Profit! (Unless you're funding said degrees, or getting them)

Every year or so the Association of Graduate Recruiters puts out a report saying how phenomenally tough it is. A couple of years back, they attached a graph showing the %age changes year on year since 1989. I ran those percentages through the old calculator and they essentially showed that their recruitment numbers didn't get beyond 1989 levels until 2006 or so. Over that period there's been a massive rise in graduate supply, and demand has plummeted since then.

When business groups bang on about having to import workers to cover skill shortages I start wondering why:

They don't form some kind of cooperative to run a specialist training centre that works to the standard they expect and without them complaining to government about the supply?

Government doesn't give them a _temporary_ import window in which to set up a specialist training centre and start training locally, after which the imported workers are no longer necessary?

Skills "shortages" have little to do with it - it's an abrogation of duty to help develop those skills, and unwillingness to pay above the internationally lowest price one can find workers at.

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Childcatcher

Digital literacy - yes, please...

Where digital literacy is defined as rather more than being able to make a post of facebook from your phone. A basic understanding of how things hang together, why some queries work better against a database than others, that kind of thing. Enough, in fact, to understand the potential impact of your actions. Not in detail, but enough to think twice maybe.

And as for mid-level bods. I'd agree that outsourcing does tend to kill the progression from basic skills through deeper understanding to serious skills. The outfit I work for has been offshoring (even worse than in-country outsourcing) the support teams. It's pretty apparent as people have left that the skills gaps aren't getting filled - there's not the interchange between teams or the ad-hoc grouping of bods to fix issues, so no skills transfer. And yes, the offshoring is primarily about money, not extended hours support. You can tell, 'cause the offshore workforce gets expanded whenever an in-country head leaves...

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IT Angle

IT skills, yes, but who is going to teach it?

When I went through high school in the 80's our IT classes were code, code and more code. We were taught structured programming, data structures, etc. and set us all up well to go to uni and do a proper computer science degree. The best part: our high school teacher was an experienced programmer who turned to teaching when she moved out into our rustic country town. She earned the same money teaching as in IT.

These days though the disparity in money between teachers and experienced IT professionals is such that you simply won't get someone with skills and experience in the teaching profession. So they have barely IT literate staff trying to teach kids that frequently have much higher levels of experience hacking away at home. No wonder they do things like "Office skills" and muck about with applications rather than getting down and dirty and writing code.

Unless you solve the financial aspects of this I can't see how anything will change at the high school level.

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Anonymous Coward

The Bare-Faced Cheek

Are these the same CIOs that scrapped their graduate recruitment programmes, closed down the in-house training department, won't let staff go to technical conferences (that must be a jolly, right?) and have been merrily outsourcing for the last 10-15 years?

Thought so.

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LPF
Thumb Up

Here's an idead..

How about we stop allowing intra company transfers to allow cheap labour the from the indian sub contient to enter the country and price british it workers out fo jobs.

How about we allowancies to consultants working away from home, working away from your family for months on end, living in poxy hotels is not a taxable f**king benefit!

How about geeting rid of the IR35 , which was bought in by dawn primarolo so as to stop independant consultants competeting with the walking disasters like fujisitsu, CSC etc etc that have shiphoned off billions from this coubntry!

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WTF?

Re: Here's an idead..

In English please?

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FAIL

Oh Really?

Would these CIOs be the same ones who take the advice of their own IT professionals over tech vendors?

No, thought not.

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Anonymous Coward

"once somebody has managed to graduate in Computer Science they may struggle to find work in IT because "there are either no jobs or the positions are outsourced/given to overseas graduates ... Businesses have made matters worse through outsourcing ICT jobs, particularly to Asia." "

Personally I'd put it down to Computer Science not being IT. Either you did a good computer science course and logic and recursion and design patterns and algorithms are second nature to you, in which case you're skilled in entirely the wrong areas for IT (except in being computer literate), or you did a shit computer science course and you're skilled in entirely the wrong areas for everything.

IT is one of the areas that can really benefit from the new higher apprenticeship schemes. Degree-level, on the job training combining both formal qualifications and practical experience and training. Studying Knuth and Sussman and Sedgewick for 3-4 years is verging on time wasted if you end up in information technology.

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Anonymous Coward

I think it would also be fair to say IT is not Computer Science, would be good to see the BCS actively shun submissions of IT courses pretending to be comp sci.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh, absolutely, it works both ways. I've got a good CS degree (Manchester), and while I could quite happily rattle off the principles of virtualisation and networking and encryption, sit me down in front of a terminal and ask me to manage a couple of hundred VMs or a few petabytes of storage or a thousand workstations and you may as well have plucked any old nerd off the street. But, by the same token, ask your average sysadmin to put together a practical speech recognition algorithm and they'd have about as much clue as I do with their patch.

People need to stop talking like the two fields are one and the same. Of course there's overlap, but I very much liked the analogy above about a mechanical engineer vs a mechanic. I wouldn't trust your average MechEng graduate to change my oil (let alone a turbo), but by the same token I wouldn't want a grease monkey designing the structure of my car.

And that's why I'm very much in favour of all these companies re-instituting their development programmes and taking on higher apprentices in IT. I can't see any better way to plug their skills gaps than by them training their own staff.

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Computer Studies A-level

Back in '98 I took an A-level called "Computer Studies" (can't remember which exam board it was). It gave me a proper in-depth understanding of computer software (and a little hardware too) and was excellent preparation for my degree course in Computer Science. It covered everything from the binary system (I remember countless hours of doing binary arithmetic by hand) to Codd's rules of database normalization. Surely something similar must still exist?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer Studies A-level

I did similar back in 95/96 but could see the trend towards IT courses that focused on how to use mainstream tools. Rather than the course I did which was heavily pascal orientated, required a project to be submitted, source code reviewed, binary math, basic 8086 assembly - to offer the understanding of microprocessor architecture. Made my first year at uni a breeze but I quickly realised that I wasn't the norm as I'd also studied java independently to get my head into Object Orientation and saw lots of other first year students that had come from "point and click" a levels fall apart when the lecturer talked about basic stuff.

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Computer Science - be careful what you ask for

Having taught in a dept delivering a Computer Science degree, I'd have to say many Computer Science Degrees are full of Mathematics modules. Some will contain an element of "Software Engineering" - programming and design. Some may even contain some Microprocessor stuff.

Very little of all this prepares a Student for the world of IT in business where you're installing OSes, Complex Applications, setting up Hypervisors, Systems Monitoring. fault finding etc.

Perhaps an analogy which works is a Degree in Engineering being near useless to the Car Mechanic. Would a typical mechanical engineering degree actually provide someone with the knowledge to change a Turbo on a BMW?

What's needed is someone with the Interest and Aptitude for the job working through an apprenticeship, picking up the array of MSCE, VAP, CNA, etc. qualifications.

There is a required background to all this stuff (Understanding Network protocols, how CPUs work, a bit of programming etc.) but how much of this stuff is included in a Computer Science degree these days I wouldn't be sure.

Some professions seemed to have it sussed - a Law Degree will definitely help you become a Lawyer, likewise a Medical Degree. A Software Engineering Degree may even manage to set you up as a programmer. But the gap is for a degree for an I.T. Pro who spends his days installing/troubleshooting complex combinations of systems - how do learn what's needed to plonk a windows domain on a VMware install on a set of blade servers, with a big bad SAN underneath?

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Re: Computer Science - be careful what you ask for

"How do learn what's needed to plonk a windows domain on a VMware install on a set of blade servers, with a big bad SAN underneath?"

By getting a job at a company that does these things, but most aren't hiring unless you can do all these things already with 3-5 years experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer Science - be careful what you ask for

There is no way a Computer Science degree can teach a student about all the various technologies out in the marketplace. At university I learned C++/Win32 API programming but then had to learn ASP.NET, Java at work. We studied basic SQL as an undergraduate but had to master SQL Server and Oracle whilst employed.

We were not even taught how to instal OSes, Complex Applications or set up Hypervisors as my University professors assumed that anybody could read an installation manual and follow it.

Furthermore a course may teach advanced subjects such as Computer Vision / Image understanding so that a student may be employed developing something not even in the market place.

Some courses may teach a lot of mathematics. I had to learn a lot of differentiation, complex numbers and matrices. All this mathematics is required for electronics. Complex numbers are used to calculate the phase difference between the voltage and current in a circuit. I had to learn the Spice circuit simulation language myself which can do a lot of this calculation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer Science - be careful what you ask for

No University in their right minds will teach vendor specific technologies to students.

Instead general skills are taught so that a student is able to quickly get up to scratch with what is required.

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Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: Computer Science - be careful what you ask for

"By getting a job at a company that does these things, but most aren't hiring unless you can do all these things already with 3-5 years experience."

Which of course you will have gotten in your after school job.

Otherwise they'd have to pay for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Skills Shortage

It is because of all this outsourcing talk that the economy is in such trouble.

In my experience it not outsourcing to offshore but bringing in foreign workers to do the programming.

These foreign workers are not really more skilled just cost a little less. They are paid their home country salary which is about 7k but when you add on their accommodation costs of 3K the total comes to about 10k.

The government really should do more to ensure we produce enough quality home grown talent. At University only 10% - 20% of my Computer Science undergraduate year managed to master the skill of programming. If visual programming languages (Scratch Programming Language) are taught at GCSE / A Level then we might be in a position where 70% - 80% of Computer Science undergraduates managing to master the skill of programming in C++ / Java.

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Silver badge

Degrees and experience

This is nothing unique to IT, and nothing new, either. Half a century ago my father, who was chief engineer of a semiconductor company, told me that the PhD graduates he employed were initially quite incapable.

The problem with IT jobs is that they combine an academic element and a craft element. There are plenty of other careers where this is the case. Medicine is an obvious one. We all have some idea of what it takes to turn a graduate into a useful doctor. I'm sure there are parallels in disciplines like engineering and architecture.

Long experience is one way to build up craft skills, but the examples above show that the process can be formalised and accelerated.

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Lol

Hilarious. They're starting to realize that the support structure for IT / CS has gone away, and that the costs to train someone up in these disciplines is skyrocketing. When I say support structure, I don't mean university, I mean the elementary school / middle school / high or secondary school programs and extra training that typically vets people long before they get to university. That's years of typing, IT, CS, and even EE pre-reqs that have been disbanded. The cost to train a SE / CS person with comparable knowledge to today's types will eventually become a very costly affair.

As for the wages, yeah, they've been hurting on both sides of the pond for quite some time. They haven't risen, they've continuously shrunk, which makes little sense for something that is in such high demand (small supply, increasing demand...wages typically rise...if they don't, something abnormal is going on). Combined with the high-stress of said jobs, it's no surprise people are turning away for easier majors which pay just as well, if not better. You're not attracting top talent, as top talent can go wherever the money is.

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Anonymous Coward

"However the report does suggest that even once somebody has managed to graduate in Computer Science they may struggle to find work in IT because "there are either no jobs or the positions are outsourced/given to overseas graduates"

Or there's the other alternative the article fails to mention... That, in an employers market, jobs have gone to time served professionals with years of experience but no IT related degree (if a degree at all).

From what I have seen first hand, many companies value real world experience as much (if not more in some cases) as fresh (under-)graduates.

ISTM that many graduates are leaving uni' having been filled with false (or unrealistic) expectations, and not just about their alleged earning potential.

Me personally, I prefer a good mix of the two - unbeatable IMO.

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Gold badge
Unhappy

"IT user companies have a need for employees who are digitally literate"

So MS software for the next decade as well then.

Joy.

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Megaphone

good article

industry brought the crisis on themselves with their idiotic behavior, making massive future losses to get their hands on small amounts of extra profit today. probably so the execs daughter can afford the new uni fees. otherwise how will her hot tight vag get introduced to the campus boys.

you see, nobody cares about IT people, at all. Nobody understands what we do, or how much smarter we are than them. My advice is to become a hacker. Black hat, white hat, grey hat. Get yourself a hat and get hacking. Choose a cause to change the world that you care about. Quit your job, you're gunna be laid off next month anyway.

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