We wrote a story earlier this week about IT being a boring career and a real turn off for graduates. It has been picked up on “news for nerds” site Slashdot and has got over 680 comments, with the thread asking the question?
There’s been quite a long running theory that IT has an image problem and hence its problem recruiting the right calibre of graduates into the industry.
I met up with the BCS earlier this week and this issue was a big concern for them. They made the point that children need to be excited about a career in IT before they reach secondary school and the fact that many primary schools didn’t have qualified maths teachers wasn’t helping attract pupils into the sciences. So perhaps its not solely an image problem and surely as more kids grow up with computers a career in IT will seem more within their reach.
A few mischevious comments on Slashdot have agreed that the unattractiveness of IT as a career is all to do with poor old Bill Gates, who retires next week and has been single-handedly blamed for giving the industry a geeky, nerdy image. A touch harsh and affair, I think. My position is backed up by this comment, which makes a lot of the point that being successful is an attractive quality that people generally try to emulate.
However, I don’t think it is all money rated as I think IT is perceived as a reasonably rewarded industry, so perhaps it has more to do with the job functions and requirements of IT departments. See this comment below
“Perhaps it’s a sign that the IT industry is growing up. Writing software isbecoming much more like engineering and a lot less like pioneering.
Engineering in all its facets (from civil engineering to mechanicalengineering to chemical engineering) is sometimes considered “boring” too…………
With software development there simply is a lot of (to me elegant andbeautiful, to others dead and boring) scientific background knowledge you shouldhave (algorithms, data-structures, compiler design, finite automata, complexitytheory, concurrency theory, discrete mathematics, and numerical mathematics)supplemented by more applied knowledge like the principles of softwareengineering, in-depth knowledge of at least three programming languages (C, C++,Java), some experience with the object hierarchy underlying modern GUIs, andprobably a lot I forgot.
And when you’ve done all that and appear for your first job, you may findyou’ll be on some project team and entrusted with responsibility for buildingcomponent X of subsystem Y according to specifications someone will give you.You write your code, construct your test-cases, and verify correctness, documentyour functions, check in your code, and rush off to the next specificationyou’ll implement because you’ve got to meet productivity standards or you’reout.“
For what it’s worth, I think it is more about enthusing younsters about a career in IT – and for some that may mean finding out at a early age that they are actually very good at mathmatics and that applying this in computer sciences could provide them with a very succcessful and lucrative career. This may be a simplistic answer to what is a huge debate and one in which Computer Weekly will continue to be involved, because IT matters to businesses and to the economic health of this country.