back to article Computer Science grads still finding it hard to get a job

Computer science grads are still finding it much harder to secure jobs than their peers in other STEM subjects, with one in 10 out of work six months after uni. Nigel Shadbolt, professorial research fellow in Computer Science at the UK's University of Oxford, told delegates at a Westminster Forum event that this figure is down …

  1. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The point is not to match skills

    ...because companies usually have no idea what skills they need.

    The point of education is to provide people with the ability to learn the skills they happen to need when they need it, plus the overview over the whole field so they can decide what technologies are the obvious traps and what technologies are actually useful. Of course vendors of crap technology see that a lot differently. :)

    Teach people how to think, introduce them to as many fields as possible, that's the purpose of school. The purpose of university is not much different just the fields are a bit narrower.

    1. Charles Manning

      It aint the skills stupid...

      Anyone who hires grads on skills is shooting themselves in the foot. Many of those skills will be worthless in 5 years, so you really need people who can commit to a career of lifetime learning. Can't learn - go pick another industry, you don't belong here.

      I don't even think universities should try to teach people how to think or learn. Kids are natural thinkers and learners until they get it drummed out of them at school/uni. Those that do well at uni are those that soak up the subject matter and regurgitate on demand. That is not real learning.

      At best university serves as a filter to weed out some. It's still a large-hole mesh though and making it through the uni filter is no guarantee of competence.

      1. tfewster Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: It aint the skills stupid...

        An upvote for the first paragraph, but I don't agree with the second - Schools spoon-feed youngsters the information they need, at University they find out how to think critically and learn on their own.

        On the subject of communication skills: My professor dinged me for not commenting my code sufficiently. I later worked out that he actually meant not to name my variables "a" and "b"

        Bloody teachers --->

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It aint the skills stupid...

        I think the problem is more along the lines of people not actually requiring IT graduates at all but, more often, business people that aren't IT inept and that don't write shit code. There are generally few places in non-IT businesses for out and out CS people. What you really desire are business people that can code.

    2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: The point is not to match skills: It's attitude

      I've had plenty of experience on both sides of the interview process, however what is usually genuinely important can be summed up something like this:

      When you're interviewing for a position, your primary concern is to ensure that the candidate's personality is a match for the company and the team. Knowledge and skills can be taught, attitude can't.

      Interviewing for attitude isn't as easy as interviewing for skills but it can be done and when you're a candidate it's often your responsibility to "sell" your attitude.

      The problem with (IT) graduates is that they are in a wide, and widening, industry and the technology they'll have been taught at University will often not match what an employer requires. This isn't helped when many employers are ludicrously specific on what skills they "require" and while this is reasonable to help filter out the sometimes deluge of applications, being too specific will reduce the available candidates with exact matches down to zero.

      The next problem is what graduates are taught and how. Pre-graduate education is currently largely mired in the process of being taught to pass an exam which doesn't give the Universities much to work with and is a perpetual gripe for them. Many Professors will complain that the first year of University is now wasted having to teach students how to learn and often to teach the basics of the subject they managed to pass exams for. Universities have previously been under an enormous amount of criticism for not teaching using environments and packages that are in common use in industry, their reaction to this has generally been either to switch to more modern environments (which given that most employers are not cutting edge isn't a problem) or to switch to cutting edge environments that aren't industry proven.

      1. Lapun Mankimasta

        Re: The point is not to match skills: It's attitude

        "Interviewing for attitude isn't as easy as interviewing for skills but it can be done and when you're a candidate it's often your responsibility to "sell" your attitude."

        And what precisely is meant by "attitude"? We are talking about computer science here. Computer science is notoriously focused on precise definitions - as for that matter, most of the other sciences, including psychology, which "human resources" is apparently a subset of. Reading this sort of comment - which does not specify "attitude" makes me understand why "human resources" is viewed with such disdain by real research psychologists - it's the lazy man's psychology, almost pop psychology.

        "Pre-graduate education is currently largely mired in the process of being taught to pass an exam which doesn't give the Universities much to work with and is a perpetual gripe for them. Many Professors will complain that the first year of University is now wasted having to teach students how to learn and often to teach the basics of the subject they managed to pass exams for."

        And what happens when you have the knowledge - which you've acquired through knowing how to learn - and you don't know the first thing about passing exams?

        You're a bad fit for both academia - too bolshy an attitude, since you've gone ahead and learnt without "proper" guidance and time constraints ie, you've done a full years work in six weeks - and you've clearly shown you're unreliable as an employee since you've taken an initiative that the Duly Constipated Authorities refuse to recognize.

        It's the Management Man in the Mirror Problem, no one else's.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: The point is not to match skills

      @Christian_Berger quite so

      My own interviews straight out of Uni were almost universally dreadful. But one of the advantages a new graduate has is being unhindered by convention. Drop the buzz words, and show them you can reason and think.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: The point is not to match skills

        "Drop the buzz words, and show them you can reason and think."

        Well unfortunately some universities see their jobs as teaching buzz words.

    4. FreemonSandlewould

      Re: The point is not to match skills

      In the USA the government is essentially replacing citizens with cheap Indian replacements. We're going to elect Trump and shut this down.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unfortunately...

    CompSci's are skilled, just not 'skilled' in the way employer's want, like or need, so there's still a skills gap. There's a big leap between sitting in a team environment with a design and test regime and knocking up code for a Uni project.

    Due to the skills gap, why would you invest in training when these skills are highly transferable and the big players can always outbid you when you've trained a grad to be usable? Most employers aren't software houses so need performance and results today. Welcome to the market place.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: Unfortunately...

      "CompSci's are skilled, just not 'skilled' in the way employer's want, like or need, so there's still a skills gap"

      Indeed. Until I joined the "real world" I had very little experience in key business skills like filling out a career development plan that's worth more than the time and effort put into filling it out, learning how to suck up to the right managers and setting SMART objectives that sound terribly important to the business but are nice and easy to achieve with flying colours. A module or two of those sort of things in my compsci course would have gone a long way towards giving my first employers what they appeared to want ;-)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Unfortunately...

      "Due to the skills gap, why would you invest in training when these skills are highly transferable and the big players can always outbid you when you've trained a grad to be usable?"

      What you actually mean is that the market rate is what the big players pay and if you're not prepared to pay that then you won't attract or retain staff irrespective of whether you or someone else trains them. That's life.

      1. theModge

        Re: Unfortunately...

        <quote>

        ...learning how to suck up to the right managers and setting SMART objectives that sound terribly important to the business but are nice and easy to achieve with flying colour...

        </quote>

        If only that was sarcasm.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Unfortunately...

        Run an SME and try to compete wages-wise against Google with their little tax advantage. Their wages are not market rate, its wages plus a subsidy from companies that have to and DO pay their tax.

        As I said, why bother training.

        Its not a matter of not being prepared to pay but that you can't. Unlike you I cant pull thousands of pounds out of my arse. So yes, that's life that I cant cut a sweet deal with our 'we-treat-everyone-the-same' Tax Office.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Unfortunately...

          As I said, why bother training.

          Many graduates aren't attracted to the idea of buying a degree with a sack filled with about £44k of debt. Use that fact, sign up good school leavers as apprentices, and not only will you be exempt from living/minimum wage rules, you'll not even have to pay employers' NI, your business may also qualify for apprenticeship grants, and (subject to aligning with a suitable degree course) they'll get a degree, they'll finish debt free having paid their fees, and have a starting job on their CV.

          If you're a Graun reader this will seem indentured labour, and to an extent that's true. But being practical, given the rules that exists, what's the best outcome: Three years of drinking and academia, followed by a lifetime of debt servitude, or three to five years low paid labour plus learning, and then being scot free when you've finished?

          Choose well and you'll have a low drop out rate, they'll be committed to the earn and learn aspects. If they bugger off at the end, doesn't matter since they've earned their keep in the meanwhile. And there's a good chance that the ones looking for a debt-free degree may well be more practical and savvy than those drifting along the conveyor belt towards the rotating knives of the Student Loan Company.

          1. Mark 65 Silver badge

            Re: Unfortunately...

            The world went to shit when on the job training disappeared and everyone started wanting to recruit newborns with 10 years C++ experience.

  3. Charles Manning

    Degrees these days....

    ... or in the past for that matter are no guarantee of competence. It takes way more than a degree to be any use as a programmer.

    That's why employers have always looked for a proven track record.

    I'm now a consultant, but when I was employed I was part of the company interviewing team for about 7 years, hiring grads through to experienced people.

    I never really looked at grades. I really didn't care what the person felt they had learned in university either. University is contrived and is a very poor indicator of your effectiveness as an employee - nobody really works like that. Exams are pretty pointless too for the same reason.

    What I tried to judge was whether the person was a self motivated learner and whether they had the humility to be able to be directed effectively. Those mattered more than anything else.

    So biggies for me:

    1) Did you do any internships? What did you learn there? If you just went on vacation for your summers you're useless to me.

    2) Did you contribute to any open source projects? Got a github account? Show me.

    3) Does the candidate show that they are learning by themselves beyond what they are spoon fed at university.

    I also listen to the words people use. Passive talk is a bad sign. It shows defeatist attitudes. More active words show someone with the tenacity to figure out a problem, debug stuff and take responsibility for their code and their lives:

    "I'm hoping somebody will give me a job." - passive loser talk.

    "I'm looking for a job." - active talk.

    "Something happened and my code stopped working." - err no buddy your code broke because you put a bug in there. Loser.

    "I screwed something up and we tried three different ways to fix it" - taking responsibility and tenacity.

    "They didn't teach us xxx". Loser talk.

    "I used university as a learning opportunity but I also taught myself LISP because it looked interesting". You're hired even though I hate LISP.

    I even once had a bloke bring in some code that was hassling him and we debugged it in the interview. The interviewers fixed the interviewee's bug! We hired him - damn good.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Degrees these days....

      Been in subjective interviews where the 'interviewer' relates just his experience to the assessment process. If that's what you like go for it.

      'Something happened and the code stopped working' - yes someone unbeknown renamed the source file directory to be compliant with a new naming strategy. An update changed the way stuff is mounted (hello Ubuntu). This happens.

      Had one interview for a Systems Engineering post a few years back. Asked how a problem was solved in a previous project, one interviewer turned around and said 'I know everything there is to know about Systems Engineering and nothing you say is of any interest to me so don't go on. I know the head of INCOSE.'

      I didn't waste time finding out if I was successful.

    2. dotdavid

      Re: Degrees these days....

      " even once had a bloke bring in some code that was hassling him and we debugged it in the interview. The interviewers fixed the interviewee's bug!"

      I wonder whether the technique would work for some DIY I need doing at home ;-)

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Degrees these days....

      "1) Did you do any internships? What did you learn there? If you just went on vacation for your summers you're useless to me."

      OK, I get the vacation bit. But you were only accepting students who were well enough off not to need paid employment wherever they could get it. Or was that a filter to ensure they could afford to live on the pay you were offering?

    4. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: Degrees these days....

      I just hope you do not come over quite as arrogant in interviews.

      > If you just went on vacation for your summers you're useless to me.

      Do you actually fail to see how important it is for young people to visit foreign countries?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Degrees these days....

        I just hope you do not come over quite as arrogant in interviews.

        Hardly matters, does it? Charles Manning said it how it is, offered some fantastic advice for anybody in a position to take it. Being on the hiring side of the table is a chore, those of us doing it aren't overly enthusiastic and treat it as a necessary evil, and we're even less enthused the more involvement there is from the wankers of HR.

        Try hiring the right person when you don't get to sift the CVs and choose the interview candidates, and when your tosspot HR department insist on a scored "competency" interview with a minimum of two interviewers from the company. Last week I had to interview some Oxford grads. Given a free hand, any CV with an Oxford college on it would have gone straight on the "no thank you" pile, along with the spelling errors, poor presentation, mis-addressed, or impenetrable ones. But oh no, the twats of HR turned down all the people suitable for our company (big, corporate, dubious reputation, not a very good payer, but good work/life balance) and selected somebody who either won't turn up for interview, is only turning up for practice, wants to join us for REALLY BAD reasons, or will join, but leave inside six months for a job in London with bank, consultancy or the like.

        Is it any wonder interviewers are miserable bastards? Mind you, I am good at that.

    5. Christian Berger Silver badge

      The problem with a track record in "Open Source" is...

      ... that it means that lots and lots of people will work on "Open Source" projects because they see it as a career move, not because they have any interest in Free Software. An employer usually cannot tell good from bad software, so essentially there is a strong motivation to churn out lots and lots of badly designed code, and make it appear as important as possible.

      In a way as an employer you want the candidate who turns out as little code as possible and still turn out well working solutions. Every line of code will cost you money for years to come.

    6. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: Degrees these days....

      @Charles Manning

      'Agency' and 'internal locus of control' vs 'external locus of control' are the $5 words for describing your hard won experience should you ever need to justify or explain the interview process to outsiders.

      "I used university as a learning opportunity but I also taught myself LISP because it looked interesting"

      That is the kind of attitude/desire to learn that *anything* new depends on.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skill gap, meet hiring gap

    One of the reasons I no longer work for companies run by English management is that they will not hire UK grads out of principle. Buy heads in a warm climate on a contract - any day, even if said head ends up costing the same per year and is less skilled. Hire someone right of Uni - in 99% of British companies - forget it.

    In my last job in a British STEM SME we begged the management to use some of the available payroll budget to hire a few people with low to none experience out of university. Instead of that they paid the same amount per head for a barn of Hughes and one more outsourcing shop I do not recall the name of. The lot was supposedly qualified, but in reality the moment the contracts were done we stopped seeing the guys which were originally "shown" to us and actually had a clue. They were replaced by dross which did not know how to spell finite state machine and would have failed a basic CS course in any Eu university. For the same price per head.

    My kids have both expressed desire to do a CS degree one day. I told them - sure, do it. But prepare to immigrate or work for a foreign company, you are not going to have a job in in a local company in this country regardless of how good you are.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Skill gap, meet hiring gap

      Replying to my own post (I know, bad sport).

      For some of this we should actually blame my fav war criminal - Tony The bLiar and his specific adjustments to the UK Tax code to rig it in the favor of his paymasters from Crapita and other outsourcing companies (all of them have contributed to his election funds - everything above board, we do not do corruption in the UK ya know).

      Prior to IR35, grads with little or low experience started off as contractors so you had little or no overhead in hiring them as you could just send them off the premises on the same day. Nearly all of my British colleagues started off as this way. I cannot think of anyone who was a permie day one.

      IR35 as a side effect removed this option. It is now the same for a company to hire a contractor out of Uni as to hire him as a permie. So rather unsurprisingly it does not bother.

      One of the key changes most of Europe did as a part of tackling youth unemployment across the board (including STEM) is to make contracting or hiring on special "right to work/right to fire" contracts possible for people out of Uni. UK has done _NONE_ of it. NOTHING. NADA. NIL. NULL. None. ZILCH. So while the current government's party is not being openly paid out of the outsources pocket (like Nu Labor), it is still not inclined to do anything to redress the job market situation in favor of local university production.

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Skill gap, meet hiring gap

        > "One of the key changes most of Europe did as a part of tackling youth unemployment ..."

        Youth unemployment is a major problem in most of Europe, and not so much in the UK.

        > "...make contracting or hiring on special "right to work/right to fire" contracts..."

        Like zero hours contracts?

  5. Herby Silver badge

    Maybe that is what comes of...

    ...teaching Java as the only language that is taught in many CS schools these days. Then there the "real world" that is not even close to what a CS student learns in school.

    Maybe they should make them buy a Raspberry Pi and work from there. Anything to get away from an (explicative redacted) windows laptop.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Maybe that is what comes of...

      Everything to get away from Java:

      http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/ThePerilsofJavaSchools.html

      Putting aside java's (dis)advantages as a language, it is very difficult to evaluate a job candidate who has grown up on a java diet (very well described in the aforementioned Joel's rant, I am not going to repeat it - read that instead).

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Re: Maybe that is what comes of...

        Never read that, interesting article.

        I think its less that Java is easier than languages like C, or does not force you to work on your abstractions and design like Scheme and Lisp, its more that Java offers a number of supposedly pre-rolled solutions that have *huge* *fcking* *holes* in them.

        Java makes easy stuff hard - all that syntax fluff! And makes hard things less obvious until you go lve and discover its does not work.

        I studied software eng at Uni. There was a balance of theory and practical to it.

        Like earlier posters have said, there's a world of different between doing 10-15h of tutorial/week at Uni and working where where your shovelling crap 40h/week in a business environment where there a large number of plates spinning.

        For me, the most formative experience of my early Uni life was a summer internship at IBM in the late 80s. It was set as as a sort of introduction to IBM and the many levels. I managed to get a loan of a PS/2 on a 386 and a C compiler and assembler. I gave myself a rapid introduction to the PC hardware architecture, C and 32 bit assembler (Id already done a lot of 8 bit assembler) - my first MMU page fault handler!

        Never took up the offer from IBM - Im glad I didnt! But, bar the different OSes and the like, my life and work has stayed pretty much the same since those days.

        Again, as the Joel bloke says in the article - handling pointers, which actually means being able to debug code which use pointers - is a a good filter. Not sure what the filter to use for someone who's been taught Java - realising they need to do the implementation in Erlang/OTP instead?

    2. Grahame 2

      Re: Maybe that is what comes of...

      There is a tendency to fixate on certain systems and languages in courses. CompSci is as to hardware and languages as Astrophysics is to telescopes.

      I have a CompSci degree and work in systems and network engineering for over 15 years, and I was an enthusiast from an early age, so it is a subject I enjoy. While I can't say I use everything I learnt on the course day to day I find the mental disciplines and things like complexity theory (O notation) extremely useful.

      Also people need to understand that completing a degree course does not mean you stop learning, in fact it is the opposite. You just gained a load of tools to help you learn, and you just started!

      There is a tendency today to just throw more hardware a problems, which could be solved by thinking and improving the algorithm, for example using techniques to reduce the amount of I/O. As opposed to 'Needs more Cowbell!'.

      If companies knew/considered the vast amount generally wasted over engineered systems they may see CompSci skills as more of asset.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe that is what comes of...

      Admittedly it's been over a decade since I was an undergrad, but my experience of looking for work after graduating was that employers wanted someone ready-formed and knowledgeable in the thing they were looking to recruit someone to do (example: a trainee programmer position with a minimum of 2 years experience required), and weren't really willing to entertain the idea of training someone. Talking to others, this is largely still the case.

      > " Java as the only language that is taught in many CS schools these days"

      We went through Pascal (because it gives a good fundamental understanding of most things, high-level and low-level) -> Java -> C, C#, Haskel, Prolog, Maude, and a bunch of others in less depth (SPARK ADA, Eiffel, and about 6 others I can't remember off the top of my head).

      > "to get away from an (explicative redacted) windows laptop"

      Most of the courses I looked at had a strong leaning to LINUX/GNU.

  6. Rod 6

    My guess is CS graduates do not do enough maths.

    1. Charles Manning

      maths... bah!

      I've been in this game for over 30 years. Hardly ever used maths.

      I've done some trig etc (as part of doing GPS guidance etc), but I've never some anything that has needed calculus or set theory etc.

      At best maths is a filter. It is a traditional subject that requires some abstract reasoning. If you can do maths then you might be able to be a programmer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: maths... bah!

        I reckon there is a correlation between discrete maths and programming ability - for obvious reasons! Ability to deal with calculus doesn't seem to have helped or hindered myself or anyone I've worked with.

        At Uni the people who did well in CS tended to be either very good at maths (as a subject), or to struggle with it. There didn't seem to be much of a middle ground.

        1. Roo
          Windows

          Re: maths... bah!

          "Ability to deal with calculus doesn't seem to have helped or hindered myself or anyone I've worked with."

          Calculus hasn't figured massively in my career either, it can come in handy if you are working with hardware (aka electronics) on occasion though.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: maths... bah!

        Maths is my worst science subject. In 45 years in the IT industry as a techie I can't remember needing anything other than binary arithmetic and simple Bayes calculations. It did surprise me that many technical people couldn't do simple tricks with binary arithmetic.

        On occasion I would consult a maths guru about whether there was a mathematical technique that could be applied to a particular real world problem. The answer was always that in theory there was - but that in practice the real world data was too awkward.

        I seemed to have an exceptional ability - that boiled down to putting in the effort required to explore many possible solutions to find the best fit to a problem. I regard myself as a tool maker. It always puzzled me why IT colleagues wasted time doing a repetitive clerical task - rather than take time out to learn/produce a mechanised aid to improve both speed and accuracy for the future.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: maths... bah!

          "The answer was always that in theory there was - but that in practice the real world data was too awkward."

          That rings a bell. I and colleagues took a few things to a stats guru. It didn't seem to be the case that the out-of-the-book processes fitted and he produced something tailor made for us.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the internships/extramurals that make the difference

    Where I work the Boss has gone out on a limb and hired two fresh graduates. In each case he gave them an informal trial beforehand (asked if they would do a project of some sort "for fun" -over the summer note, not a project that was in any way revenue-generating).

    Graduate #1 has pretty impressive qualifications but never worked in the real world before; #2 has a basic degree but spent a year working as a volunteer with a charity - mostly in a gardening team.

    Even though they are both trying really hard, #2 is making more progress simply because he has a better idea of what real work is.

    Perhaps the "problem" with CS is that it is on the boundary between maths and engineering, and so one can graduate well if one is strong in either of those dimensions... BUT the engineering-oriented CS graduate is going to be more immediately employable because they will have a track record of stuff they couldn't stop themselves from building, whether or not it was part of the syllabus.

  8. Sooty
    Stop

    soft skills and communication skills

    If these are the critical skills in the IT industry, it completely explains why so much of it is done by Indians who mostly struggle to communicate anything reliably.

    "yes" means no

    "yes" with a shake of the head means I haven't a clue what you're on about?

    "Yes we'll have it ready on this date" means what did you want us to do again?

    "There are no problems at all" means get your umbrella, the shit has hit the fan!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: soft skills and communication skills

      It probably means being able to bullshit.

      I am currently starting work on a new system and I cannot give time estimates because I don't know it well enough, this is not good enough for the PMs. Perhaps I should just say there are no problems at all.

    2. Blip

      Re: soft skills and communication skills

      The Indian headshake decoded

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-26390944

  9. Geoff Campbell
    Facepalm

    "but it’s still 40 per cent higher than other STEM skills"

    Seems to me that Mr. Shadbolt could do with going back to school himself.

    GJC

  10. Orwell44

    "Prior to IR35, grads with little or low experience started off as contractors so you had little or no overhead in hiring them as you could just send them off the premises on the same day. Nearly all of my British colleagues started off as this way. I cannot think of anyone who was a permie day one."

    I find extraordinarily unlikely. People employ contractors for proven skills, maybe you meant temps?

    IT35 stops tax avoidance, new hires would not be put off by this.

    In any case a new hire can be dismissed without any cause in the first year.

    Degrees are pointless. A year spent solving logical problems and producing good written and spoken comms is all that is needed. A razor-sharp logical mind is the key to success in IT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "A razor-sharp logical mind is the key to success in IT."

      That is required to analyse what something is doing - often unexpectedly. However - creativity comes in the form of lateral thinking. Too much logic will lead to tramlines - and you won't see the subtle lateral alternatives or real world pitfalls.

      To handle IT system problems you have to be able to think wide and deep. That's gut feelings combined with logic for the jots and tittles. Plus the ability to learn without a training course.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "IT35 stops tax avoidance"

      What's that? Did you mean IR35? That means applying a tax regime that assumes the cash flow of a salaried position* to a business. However I share your concern at the original statement.

      * Tax systems are designed by people on steady incomes who believe that that's how everybody else is employed.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      IT(R?)35 stops tax avoidance, new hires would not be put off by this.

      ROFL!!!!!

      No, no it doesn't. It changes the tune to which you dance, but the band plays on regardless.

  11. Orwell44

    It's also nonsense to say (as some comments have) that CS will not get hired by a local company.

    Far more opportunities in IT than in actual Physics for example. My own nephew has a 1st in Physics and was fortunate to get hired into an IT role. Otherwise he would be working in Starbucks!

  12. Paul 25

    I'd like to see a more detailed comparison

    One of the differences between CS and the pure sciences is that if you want to put on a science or hard engineering course you will need expensive labs, associated technicians, and supplies. Any institution with a computer room can run a CS course.

    This shows. I recently interviewed a grad who had done a CS-lite course at one of the low tier universities, and the poor kid could barely code, with huge gaps in his knowledge. I really felt sorry for him, as far as I'm concerned he was ripped off. I could code better before I went to university than he could after three years.

    I would like to see a comparison of employability of CS grads taking into account the institutions they come from. I suspect we might see the difference narrow when you just include the better institutions.

    The comparison with the other STEM subjects is also instructive regarding what CS courses don't teach, which is the practical craft of programming. If you do a science or hard engineering degree you will be taught how to conduct experiments, record your results, keeps notes, how to use the lab equipment, how to actually do the practical side of your subject as well as the theory. These things are taught all through your course. When you graduate you would at least expect to have enough skills to get you started in a commercial lab.

    The equivalent skills in CS, like how to use source/version control, test your code, work in team environments, document your code properly (not an academic project writeup), these seem to be rarely taught in CS courses, and if they are they are done as a one off, when they need to be woven into the entire course (e.g. submitting coursework through the source control system, with complete version history and test set).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd like to see a more detailed comparison

      Very true; although I have a Hons in CS, I probably make more day-to-day use of the 3rd year level Applied Physics course that I did - and the "real software engineering" experience from vac jobs.

  13. Chris Miller

    There's an academic discipline called computer science. It's a branch of maths and looks at issues such as "does P=NP?" This has almost nothing to do with the ability to turn out neat, compact code under time pressure, which is what employers are looking for - it isn't a pure academic discipline, rather an acquired skill, like welding (which is not meant to denigrate either welding or writing code). We used to have further education establishments which taught such skills, but now they're all rebranded as 'universities' and must do academic stuff.

    Twenty years ago we worked closely with our local technical college to do the 'work experience' segment of their computing courses. We got keen late teenagers to work with us for three months, which meant we had an excellent feel for their true performance. We were very keen to take on the good ones, and some of my best people came through this route.

  14. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Education....

    Most kids these days would find it more effective and cheaper to just work through the Microsoft qualifications than to do a degree. Perhaps tack on the Oracle equivalents for Unix/Java and the basic cisco networking stuff to round it off a bit.

    Shame you can't get a student loan for it, some uni should just put a wrapper round that lot for the funding and not actually do any teaching at all.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Education....

      > Most kids these days would find it more effective and cheaper to just work through the Microsoft qualifications than to do a degree.

      WTF? Did you forget the troll icon?

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Education....

        I think you are both overestimating degree courses and also missing the what employers are looking for on CVs.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ooh! Look at me! I'm a graduate!

    A place I recently worked for had a "graduate programme". This meant they brought in a load of fit young birds who trotted up and down the office in high heels and exceedingly short skirts.

    One had been a sandwich artist at Subway. One came from the perfume counter at Debenhams and the third had never seen a spreadsheet. The fourth had a degree in music.

    As far as I understand, studying for a degree equates to four years getting drunk, having sexy time and getting student discounts left, right and centre whilst the rest of us have to live in the real world.

    1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

      Re: Ooh! Look at me! I'm a graduate!

      You don't run an open source project on git hub do you perchance?

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: Ooh! Look at me! I'm a graduate!

      > As far as I understand, ... [nothing] ...

      There is your problem.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Ooh! Look at me! I'm a graduate!

        Well Eng had about 35 hours a week lectures, plus coursework, plus getting out and having sexy times and nights out on discounts. You were just going to work and going home? I think you were slacking a bit.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "However, one of the recommendations ...is to better understand what employers mean when they say they are not fit for the market."

    This year, the market is probably looking for 3 years experience in W10.

    And whilst grammarians argue that split infinitives aren't really grammatically incorrect they can still be ugly.

  17. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Thirty-five years ago...

    ... when I graduated, I had a job lined up with ICL (remember them?). A month before the start date, I, and indeed all the other people on their graduate programme (remember them?), were sent a cheque for £20 for our trouble and told not to bother turning up as they suddenly weren't recruiting that year.

    The fast pace of technology change means that careers within IT-producing companies tend to be more precarious and IT-consuming companies tend to be more cautious as it's harder to predict who they're going to need. This is not likely to change.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: Thirty-five years ago...

      Chatting to a few ICL people who I knew in the mid-90s, nobody in ICL management could predict shit even it the future was written down and nailed to their foreheads.

      ICL - the attempt to answer 'Why does the UK not have an IBM' brought to you by UK middle-managers and art-graduate civil servants.

    2. FlossyThePig

      Re: Thirty-five years ago...

      Over Forty years ago I had a job lined up with International Computers Limited (remember them?) but the three day week put it on hold. I did start a few months later as part of their graduate intake. There weren't may computer related degrees amongst the starters and one or two were mildly upset when they found out I didn't have a degree.

      It was the right aptitude that was required then and should be now. One of the most productive programmers I have come across over the years was an ex bank manager who had had an enforced career change.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thirty-five years ago...

        "It was the right aptitude that was required then and should be now. "

        In the 1960s graduates were taken on in an expectation that they were accomplished learners - so their degree subject was irrelevant.

        Our software unit was responsible for helping the development engineers debug their prototype mainframes. That meant interacting with the hardware on the engineers' panel so we could pinpoint where the logic had failed either by design or wiring fault. The existing members of the team were recruited internally from people who had a couple of years in the company gaining relevant experience and proving an aptitude.

        Then the company assigned us a graduate in History and Philosophy with a relatively high starting salary.

        After three months the graduate was transferred into a non-technical department. He could never grasp that in the hexadecimal base number system the symbols for 10 to 15 were "A" through "F". He just stalled on the fact that to him a "number" was a symbol of 0 - 9. Treating "0" as effectively meaning "1" in indexing instructions also caused him some problems.

    3. Alan Mackenzie

      Re: Thirty-five years ago...

      That would have been the summer of 1980. I actually started with ICL then, discovering a week or two later that all new graduates who hadn't started yet would not start at all. ICL's wonderful management had apparently been unaware that they had been losing money for years, and had suddenly found out.

      They even had two mainframe operating systems competing with eachother (VME/B and VME/K), allegedly one being for big machines, the other for small ones (a big one having, say, 8MB of RAM). In a way, ICL was more like a civil service branch, those being the days when all government contracts simply went to ICL, the home producer. The market in Britain then was mainly about mainframes, and it was carved up approximately 50% each for ICL and IBM, though DEC with its minicomputers had quite a business too.

      I stayed about 3 years at ICL, then moved to a smaller company that paid me more.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Thirty-five years ago...

        all government contracts simply went to ICL

        Weirdly, the job I went to instead was at an offshoot of British Shipbuilders, to assist one of their software development outfits move off a perfectly usable ICL 1900 series machine with decent timesharing under George 3 onto IBM's abysmal SPF. I had worked a previous summer at IBM when the salesman had won the contract - as I recall he bought a (modest) boat with his commission. Having had to wrestle with SPF and attempt to teach JCL to naval architects, I can only hope he later followed the example of Robert Maxwell.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Skills Gap

    For several years, computer science graduates have topped the list of the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s unemployability rankings, despite the huge skills gap in the discipline.

    If they are unemployable then there isnt a skills gap - or at least it isnt one they are fitting.

    If there is a genuine gap in the market for their skills, they would be heavily employed. The problem is that the gap in the market is largely fictional and appears to be driven by a need to justify offshoring....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Skills Gap

      hmmm but is it the subject that makes them unemployable or the graduates themselves. Most CS graduates look and act like something from a Star trek convention! We have a lot of CS students on placement where I work (its a lab) probably around a dozen a year, and they are always odd!

    2. annodomini2

      Re: Skills Gap

      No just a vague attempt at forcing wages down.

  19. Al fazed
    FAIL

    Out of luck

    Well if employers actually knew what was good for them, they might have a chance - but we are still stuck with directors who don't know much about IT trying to employ someone with the "specific IT skills" that they think are necessary to do a specific job.

    As we know, these ideally skilled IT people rarely exist straight off the peg. . The problem seems to be that employers generally do not understand what IT involves and so are looking for people who have very specific propriety skills when they do not exist.

    Employers are stuck following the whims of IT marketing wonks and that is where they will remain as far as I am concerned, I have no wish to join a bunch of idiots who are trying to make cream with a Win 10 tablet, etc.

    IT has given us applicant profiling, so unless you exactly fit the idiot company director's fantasy cutout shape, you will find it difficult finding worth while work in IT. This means if you are over 35 you have no chance, if you are a foriegn national, your employability in UK IT is severely limited.

    Then when you find that dream job and if the firm is successful, you will soon find yourself redundant, on the street again and looking to fit another idiots employee profile.

    What is the point ?

    I can earn more money fixing computer stuff that people have broken and I have job satisfaction of helping people, it's just not as well paid as a premier league footballer and it isn't regular work. so I have to do other more physical, outdoorsy stuff which also keeps me fit and avoids me getting RSI or Microsoft's Upgrade Disease. And I haven't got any brand marks on my forehead.

    I am currently batting back to base a large number of on-line surveys and other such home spun stuff because it quite simpy doesn't work, or it fails to meet W3C Accessibility standards, or relies on Flash Player, or has embedded iFrames and poses a security risk. Each employer seems to have little or no idea of the level of IT skill required by their employees, so we have an admin person filling in the skills gap and sharpishly punting out pretty crap communications, hugely flawed web pages, or largely useless on-line apps for their users to struggle with.

    One chap told me "categorically" that there was no software involved in his on-line survey (made with Survey Monkey of course). Another told me, "but that's how the program made the form" and that they didn't have a clue how to make lines of text wrap at a useful point, so each new question was by default several monitor screens wide.

    ALF

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One problem is employers usually want "x years of experience" in some fairly specific set of tools, which immediately excludes graduates and entry level jobs for them seem to be few and far between. Few are willing to invest in training people as this gives them the "x years of experience", the fear seems to be they'll leave and go to a better paid job rather than be loyal to the company that looked after them, which for me says more about the company than the employee.

    Then somewhere between the ages of 35 to 40 IT guys start becoming unemployable for some reason that escapes me, I know IT guys in their 60's who are incredibly productive, can problem solve better than most but can't get a job because they're supposed to be burnt out by that age, they tend to start their own companies or leave the industry altogether.

    So employers seem to chase people who are already employed and are between 25 to 35 years old, graduates and older people rarely get a look in.

    Maybe they could try relaxing their age and experience parameters a little, maybe they could try training graduates in the required skill sets, maybe they could try hiring the older people.

    Then maybe they could stop whining about skills shortages that they are actively creating.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      No sure on this.

      Lets narrow this down to people who write software. I dont care what you want to call them - programmers, developers, software engineers.

      Writing software did not exist in any large number until the late 80s, when two major events happened - ANSI C and 80386 with an MMU.

      Before then, software development consisted of lots of proprietary hardware platforms (bit sliced CPUs anyone?) and languages (pick your shit).

      During the 90s you saw people who had transferable skills.

      With the advent of Linux + OSS in the 90s you no longer needed a company to stub up for the tools + platform. The company I worked for in the early 90s forked out several 100K on a set of Vaxes and Sun workstations + compilers + source control tools.

      Now, I can buy an Intel i7 for 500ish and put a free Unix on it and free tools.

      so, going back. Most of the people who started out when software and hardware became more standard and tradable will still only be in their 40s - just.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'm pushing 60, when I graduated it took 6 months to find a job that wasn't looking for 3+ years experience in some specific programming language, as I've aged entry level jobs like the one I managed to get have remained a fairly constant rarity.

        As I got even older I started to notice a definite attitude in any interviews I attended, my CV would get me through the door quite happily, but as soon as the interviewer looked at me and realised that 20+ years experience actually meant I was more than 10 years older than they were their faces would fall. The first question you get asked in these situations is "How do you feel about taking instructions from someone younger than yourself", when you hear that you may as well leave as you're wasting your time.

        If you want to make money, play poker with these guys, they are crap at hiding their feelings, trust me.

        I was part of a multinational and the parent company had a financial hiccup so they sold off their profit making but none core elements, which included the bit I worked for, the new company didn't want me as I was too old, despite the younger staff they did retain not knowing a great deal about the software we made, so I ended up redundant.

        I worked as a security guard to pay bills because no one wanted an older person no matter how skilled. I got the "How do you feel ..." question so many times I could tell to the second when they would ask it from the look on their face as I walked through the door. The record was about 5 seconds, literally the first thing that was said after "Hello, have a seat".

        So to stay in the industry and make use of the skills I spent years learning I went self employed, which isn't for everyone, I don't have all the skills to run a business, fortunately my partner fills the gaps. I'd rather not be self employed but the industry doesn't have a job for me despite allowing me to make a living selling my skills via my company, which always seems odd to me. I'm unemployable but my skills are quite saleable.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I can endorse your observations regarding getting work when you're older. I started my first job in IT a few weeks before my 18th birthday and I'll be 59 this summer. Haven't been able to get work in IT since my mid-forties and now arthritis and arterial disease means I can't do much in the way of manual jobs either.

          At the last interview I got, two or three years ago via a 'Job Fair' where I had a good face-to-face chat with the director of a small IT service provider, he eventually admitted that whilst he'd like to employ me because he thought my experience would be valuable he could get two 'IT apprentices' for less than it would cost him to employ me on the minimum basic wage.

          To be honest, I actually quite enjoyed the simplicity and lack of BS in the warehouse work I ended up doing for a couple of years, until I could no longer do it, because work finished at the end of each day - no worrying about phone calls in the middle of the night because a system had gone down and other stuff like that.

        2. ntevanza

          Ageism is probably already illegal, and the way the demographics are going in Europe, it will soon be a one way ticket for employers.

          You can test whether it's bullshit by looking at regional differences. Despite their younger population, the spread of ages in US corporations is anecdotally wider than in Europe.

          Culture can be fatal.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Writing software did not exist in any large number until the late 80s, when two major events happened - ANSI C and 80386 with an MMU."

        WTF? First programming I did was in 1970/71, at school, using 2B pencils to code BASIC on cards. By around 1974 I was working in COBOL, as were a considerable number of other programmers. In fact, I'd wager that there were many more programmers back then than there are now because there were no off-the-shelf 'packages' for businesses to simply buy; most companies had to write their own systems, combining utilities, such as sort programs that were part of the OS, with their own original programs in 'batch' jobs to produce printed reports on fan-fold manuscript. This also lead to doing quite a bit of JCL/SCL to control the batch jobs.

        It was quite a few years later before UNIX became viable for more than just research; the usage of C outside of research and OS development just wasn't really needed until GUIs arrived, which was around the mid 1980s.

  21. ntevanza

    abort, retry, fail

    We don't have reliable data on this. We don't even have the vocabulary to describe what people actually do at work, with which to frame reliable data.

    Obviously the waffle in job ads does not stand up to mild scrutiny. (Unstructured) interviews have been shown empirically to be barely better than random selection. Structured interviews are structured in the eye of the beholder.

    Applicant experience can be a trap. I've worked with more than one person with a stellar CV full of big names, but who couldn't butter bread standing up. This is the lucky first job halo effect, where an internship at Goldman Sachs turns you into a hero forever, even if they paid you with tears in their eyes to go away.

    The results from even semi-formal tests and from standard interviews are disorientatingly divergent. Why? Because if interviewing gives random results, there is necessarily a low correlation between interview result and the applicant's competence. There is a slightly less bad correlation with experience.

    Unless you are testing people, you are hiring at random. You can talk to me about skills gaps when you've convinced me your hiring and people development processes are better than a coin toss.

    This is different for stars. If you're hiring Linus Torvalds, you don't need to give him a formal test. Although it would be entertaining to try.

    For new graduates the other best solution has been known for years. It is the German style technical university Praktikum, where companies collaborate formally with universities to offer *employment* *during* the course. It is not specific to technology. It costs time, effort, and money. It has the unfortunate side effect that employers can't moan about the quality of this and that, because they're involved in the process.

    A happy side effect of testing and proper internships is that you don't *need* a vocabulary to describe what people do at work.

  22. Semaj
    FAIL

    Arrogance and Entitlement

    One of the issues that no one mentions is the attitude of many (CS) graduates.

    They refuse to work somewhere "boring" i.e. anything corporate or not related to social media because they believe the B.S. that developers should all be in fancy Shoreditch start-ups or games companies.

    And I'm speaking from experience both as a CS graduate (hearing from peers) and as an employer.

    There are LOADS of junior and graduate jobs in SMEs all over the country. They may not be glamorous but they are there.

  23. LucreLout Silver badge

    Nothing to do with offshoring all jobs...

    .....no, nothing at all.

    Offshorians are cheap because they're inexperienced, talentless, or both. Unfortunately the bean counters who decide on "location strategy" don't understand enough IT to realise that the offshorians have a similar competency.

    If we stopped shipping the entry level jobs to India, we'd stop having unemployed IT graduates, and probably stop RBSing critical parts of our commercial infrastructure.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How did they define underpaid?

    "Research from jobs search engine Adzuna, recently claimed employees in the IT industry could be underpaid by almost £15,000. It found the average advertised salary was £46,954."

    If they advertise 47k and underpay by 15k does this mean that they consider the average IT employee to be worth 62k?

    Or do they mean that they are paid an average of 32k when the average advertised rate is 47k

  25. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    Indian Computer Science Majors?

    Who are native Indians and obtained their degree in India? Having a difficult time finding employment?

    Really? Those charter jets to silicon valley are going home empty?

  26. Eduard Coli

    Camouflage Packyderm

    All of that and no mention of the obvious elephant in the room.

    All of those visa worker and outsourced labor seats have to come from somewhere.

  27. ecofeco Silver badge

    Skills and Experience gap

    It's both.

    Skills in that it's one thing to master the theory and example projects and quite another to work on business projects and the incredibly messy and undocumented environment that is the everyday norm. Learning how to not lose your temper is one of the biggest skills to learn, solving problems without documentation the other and that only comes from...

    Experience with those messy and high pressure environments where not only are things not documented and never will be, but the vendor just released an update in the middle of your project that just borked everything you were doing and the Director or VP doesn't care so get on the phone to the vendor and sort it out yesterday, because the vendor doesn't have documentation on it either. And never will.

    After a while, you come to remember the things that aren't documented, like making sure you log out of a virtual desktop and not switch off or this will "hang" your account.

    They do not teach these things at uni.

  28. Lapun Mankimasta

    Man in the mirror confesses to being the problem

    " "There is not enough information available on what it is employers think they want. Cloud computing, data analytics, are areas of huge demand but the feeling is there still not enough supply there," he said. "

    Slashdot used to have a standing joke about the job ad for people with five years skill using a language that hadn't been out for more than three, if even that.

    Face it, employers have been riding on everybody's backs for the past few decades with the assumption that they know what they are on about, when it's painfully obvious from the standing joke above, that they don't know anything. At All.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We were recruiting for a junior on a project. It was decided by the techies that a couple of them would would sit in on the interviews to assess the accuracy of the CV claims.

    We recruited none of the applicants. One chancer complimented us on the interviewing tactic. It was the first time he had been challenged to answer a simple technical question about a CV claim.

    While the techies were on holiday the project manager decided to employ a contractor with a glowing CV in the relevant area. It took a month before the manager was convinced that the guy knew nothing relevant to the communications task he had been employed to do. By then it took another two months to terminate the contract. One of the existing techies then knocked the task off in a couple of weeks. No doubt that particular task's "skill" was then added to the contractor's CV.

    On another project a contractor's company insisted on a rather grandiose title for the lowly job the extra pair of hands was to do. It amused us to see his later CV made big claims on the strength of that job title.

    However - I did work on one very successful project where every contractor really was a practical expert in the subject that was required of them.

  30. Bota

    As a soon to be CS grad (3 months left)

    I can tell you what the issue is. Working your nuts off for 3 years, paying 9k a year in fees, 10k a year in living costs, getting every cert under the sun incl. CCNA, Linux NDG, Cisco Cyber Security, plus your degree and work experience working for a large visualization firm and then being offered 15k as a starting salary. Out of that 15k I have to pay 300 a month to travel to this job, then another 1000 a month for rent and associated living costs. What's left?

    The answer: Dubai, Singapore and a wealth of other places outside the UK who value a UK education and will pay you a generous starting salary with decent prospects.

    Companies trying to pay STEM graduates retail wages is the "skills gap" issue in a nutshell. The skills are there and are abundant, but they just don't want to pay for them.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps, this is from personal experience, observation of Shadders last C.Sci dept at close quarters and meeting many s-too-dense without a clue, the problem is poor self presentation skills, poor personal hygiene and too few female C.Sci grads. Don't get me wrong, I've lost jobs to female grads without any experience against my years in similar roles, simply because they use the threat of discrimination action if they don't get the job, but C.Sci is a very much male nerd dominated course & field and employers are very sensitive to gender balance now, up the female grad numbers and the employment stats will climb.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This doesn't surprise me

    As a CS grad a decade ago I completely understand why: Many courses didn't match up to real world skills in 90% of Universities and from the state of some of the courses I have looked at recently this hasnt much changed.

    The courses are taught by ageing grey beards who all learnt to program on various archaic and (at best) niche languages and these are the languages they are passing on to their students.

    Don't get me wrong, I learnt all of the CS paradigms on Ada95 which by all accounts is a complete bitch of a language but it doesn't really let you get away with anything (e.g. a perfect teaching language). Now I'm not saying that Ada jobs don't exist in the real world (they do - and they are important ), and I agree that learning a language such as this to start with gives you an incredible foundation for learning other languages quickly, however, when you leave university there are very few graduate jobs that will employ you on something you dont have experience in on the basis that "I can pick this up quickly" - they want some prior experience of the language at least enough that you can work in a Junior capacity.

    Alongside Ada we did 2 modules of Java, 2 modules in 3 years of study! This is literally the only thing that we learnt programming wise that was employable to any serious degree (it also sucked a decade ago).

    Of all of my friends I still keep in touch with from University, there isn't a single one of them who is doing something we were actually taught at University, we went in using code examples we cobbled together (or for some of us - our dissertation done on a language we chose and learnt for it) to get our first job, most have moved beyond code monkey status into BA / Architecture / Management roles.

    I met a guy whilst working at IBM who had been taught Python as his main language, he had so many options after university it made me angry that our university offered us jack shit to help us in the real world, If I didn't get that job in IBM (through a sandwich year) then I would definitely have been stuffed, thankfully it gave me a stepping stone into Open Source development and I was able to find my way that way!

  33. roblightbody

    Would you encourage your child into a career in Computing?

    I don't think I would.

    Continued outsourcing combined with moving the actual technology to the cloud, combined with a trend towards temporary work, with static or falling salaries.

  34. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    STOP USING IT AND CS INTERCHANGABLEY!!!!

    They're NOT the same. It's like using "automotive engineer" and "chauffer" interchangably.

  35. LordHighFixer

    Simple Questions.

    I usually get called to sit in on interviews. Generally to assess an applicants skill level. I will not be working with these people generally, so why do they call me? I have a set of "hard" questions for the CS/IT crowd. The answers are generally not as important as how you answer them. Here is a little selection.

    Is the netmask 255.128.255.0 valid and why?

    What is x509?

    On a network, where is the default gateway?

    Describe the TCP handshake, how about the UDP handshake?

    What is the difference between PKCS11 and PKCS12?

    I Have a couple of pages of questions like that, plus a few problematic trouble shooting scenarios I walk them through. If they survive my portion of the interview they usually get an offer. It is not so much the answers, but how you answer them that count. (But if you don't hit at least 75% you can't work with me.)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT Interviews

    "So.. we don't know exactly how our system works but we have a lot of buzzwords. We hacked off the last guy we had and he left. He didn't leave any notes. Have you done exactly this same thing for the last five years and will you be prepared to do the exact same thing for the next 10 years without any support, budget or training?"

    I have a wonderful collection of over 100 "Sorry" emails, mostly due to an excess of honesty on my part. Corporate Zombiehood or the treacherous waters of consultancy?

  37. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Flame

    Research from jobs search engine Adzuna, recently claimed employees in the IT industry could be underpaid by almost £15,000. It found the average advertised salary was £46,954

    what now?

    i need a 32k payrise to brin me up to "average" , and I'm pretty fucking exceptional actually so i think ill ask for a bit extra , maybe 50k

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