The routes into IT

Following on from his blog post last week on school ICT curriculum, Matthew Poyiadgi, European VP of CompTIA discusses why a degree in Computer Science is not the only route into IT.

The problem with IT’s image is not just that the opportunities aren’t well represented, but also that routes in are poorly understood. People assume they need an IT degree, then hear that lots of IT graduates (amongst other graduates) are struggling to find jobs.

I believe the focus on academia is misplaced for IT. IT degrees are good for some but are not the only way. For many organisations, hands on experience gained through IT trainers (eg QA, Just IT, Firebrand, Zenos) and backed by industry certifications count for much more.

CompTIA designs certifications with industry to identify the skills they need. Companies such as Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, etc, take much the same approach. Students we speak to who take certifications, such as CompTIA A+ followed by their vendor certification of choice, consistently land rewarding jobs.

When discussing IT careers – in IT lessons, careers advice sessions or the media – we should be clearer about how students can get in, and shift the focus away from IT degrees as the de facto route. This may work to our advantage – as education costs soar, a professional career with a recognised industry certification track may become very attractive.

Furthermore, we’d like to see this real-world focused approach throughout IT education, particularly GCSEs and beyond. We need to teach IT in a practical, exciting way which relates to how it is used in real life, as the aforementioned IT trainers do with great success. This will not only inspire more young people into IT and increase understanding of how to get there, it will also ensure they have the skills to get the jobs they want.

CompTIA has just completed a guide which hopes to help young people understand the many exciting options that a career in IT offers and can be viewed here >>

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I could not agree more with you that the focus on academia for most IT jobs is misplaced. Not only because many of these jobs require skills that are not always found with academics (tedious, repetitive jobs), but also because there is a disconnect between what we teach students at universities and what is really needed in corporations. CA Technologies recently announced a real-world focused mainframe education program ( that helps young IT professionals to get up-to-speed with the complex world of mainframe management. In an extensive two month training, people work in virtual teams where they perform real tasks under the guidance of a full-time mentor. Our customers are finding out that this 2 month program not only shortens the time for people to become productive, it also helps them and their employers to decide where the specific talents of these people fit in the datacenters. Saving everybody both time & money and reducing the risk of disappointment...