IT graduate vacancies have fallen by 14% compared with last year and it is expected that thousands of IT graduates will be unable to find related work this year.
A report, Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2002/3, by careers publisher GTI, shows a 14% fall in the number of vacancies on offer in the past 12 months. The downturn follows two years in which the number of vacancies for IT graduates increased despite the overall downturn in market.
"If students were making career choices three years ago there is no way they could have predicted such a downturn," said John Eary, head of the skills source consultancy at the National Computing Centre.
"When IT first started booming students weren't showing much interest in studying computer science, but now there are more students there is less work available."
Chris Phillips, publisher of the report, said: "This is a betrayed generation. They embarked on computer science courses as it was said it would guarantee them a job."
The number of applications for each IT graduate vacancy has risen from 17 in 2001 to 22 this year. Even more frustrating for computer science graduates is the tendency of employers to fill IT posts with non-specialists who are then trained to do the job.
"It has been the case for some time that large numbers of IT professionals do not have an IT degree and large numbers of computer science graduates end up working in completely unrelated jobs," said Eary.
"This just shows that universities are not producing what employers want, although efforts are now being made to realign skills."
For those fortunate enough to secure their first job in IT there is some good news. Starting salaries have increased despite the downturn, from an average of £22,716 in 2001 to £24,764 in 2002.
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