Is offshoring making Computer Science graduates the largest unemployed group

I always get mixed message from the IT industry about skills availability. One side says there is a skills shortage while another says there is not. Some say there are good opportunities in Computer Science and some say there are not.

The offshoring of IT work is always seen as a major hinderance to the UK IT profession. I could porobably do an entire blog or two dedicated to this subject alone.

I recently wrote a blog about how UK IT professionals are themsleves migrating for pastures new.

Here are some interesting figures that contribute to the debate:

The figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that Computer Science graduates are the largest group of unemployed graduates in the UK.

These figures are from July and show that 17% of 2009 computer science graduates were unemployed. This is the highest and the average graduate unemployment is 10%.

The continued offshoring of IT work and the use of Intra Company Transfers (ICTs) to bring in workers from overseas is a major cause according to Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch.

His comments were made in a Home Affairs Select Committee which discussed immigration yesterday – see it here.

Here is a blog post I did earlier with the statistics on the number of immigrant workers in the UK and how many are using the ICT route. 

Also thanks to Argiebee for you contribution.

Here is the full unemployment rate for 2009 graduates in different professions.

Computer science 17%
Communications 14%
Architecture 13%
Engineering 13%
Creative arts 13%
Business studies 11%
Maths 10%
Languages 9%
Biological science 9%
Law 6%
Education 5%
Medicine 0%

Thanks to David who provided a link to the stats in a recent comment to this blog post. The full article is here: HESA figures on unemployment rate for 2009 graduates by profession

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It is not just 2009 computer graduates. HESA have been producing the report on graduate employment after 6 months of graduation for the last 4 years and, for 2006, 2007 and 2008 graduates, computer science graduates topped the unemployment figures. Even media studies graduates are better off, and philosophy and history graduates are significantly less likely to be unemployed.

Behind these figures, a third of computer science graduates that do get jobs are not in professional, associate professional or technical jobs I.e. probably not in IT.

Thanks ArgieBee. I think I will do a follow up with more detailed information.


I graduated in 2007 with a CS degree and I've never had an issue trying to find work starting as a Java developer. I think the hardest part was getting onto the ladder and once I was there moving around has not been much of an issue. And yes I do a proper job having worked at major IT firms (fortune 500) since my graduation. The figures would have you believe differently so who knows.

One thing that this article does not tell is what is the skil level of the IT workers who are unemployed. It's not like the countries doing the offshore work has 0% unemployment rates!

I definitely wouldn't have hired 17% of the people in my final year project group.

How many on your courses got IT/computer related Jobs?

The figures suggest that last year it was about 40% of those that graduated. About 20% were still studying/post grads.

My employer used to run an IT graduate scheme, which took on approx 25 grads each year. Then they started offshoring all the technical work to India, so they reduced the numbers by half.

In the past 3 years they've started to use Tata Consulting Services for resources to work on projects in the UK and they reduced the graduate intake to approx 5 - 6. And last year they closed down the graduate scheme because their new model meant everything was either done in India or by 3rd party vendors in the UK who secured resources from India and brought them to the UK.

I think computer science graduates have had the highest unemployment rate since 2001. In 2000 the unemployed rose. I think the IT industry is ruined, engineering is ruined as well.

The title should have been: "Is offshoring making BAD Computer Science graduates the largest unemployed group?"

You imply CS is a superset of coding, but I don't think it is - at least not in the sense of what you learn getting a CS degree, whether BS, MS, or PhD. Software development, especially as it relates to teams and large-scale apps is not something learned while getting a CS degree. So, while CS is indeed much, much more than coding, it does not encompass all that is involved with coding professionally.

Beyond merely displacing another worker who happens to be local...

If there are 65,000 H1-B holders being employed (and they're probably clustered in a few urban areas) how does that lower expectations for programmer salaries in general in those areas?

Every company I've interviewed with in the last few months has an outsource component to their IT business. Between outsourcing and H1-B abuse, it is hurting employment here.


Steve McConnell has some good thoughts on this topic e.g. from

"People who have written a few small programs in college sometimes think that writing large, professional programs is the same kind of work-only on a larger scale. It is not the same kind of work. I can build a beautiful doghouse in my backyard in a few hours. It might even take first prize at the county fair's doghouse competition. But that does not imply that I have the expertise to build a skyscraper. The skyscraper project requires an entirely more sophisticated kind of expertise. The difference in complexity between student programs and professional programs can be just as great, and non-professional programmers -underestimate the difference in required expertise at their own peril."

And especially this extract from his book "Professional Software Development" at

"When workers educated as computer scientists begin working on production systems, they often design and build software that is too frail for production use, or that’s unsafe. They focus narrowly and deeply on minor considerations to the exclusion of other factors that are more important. They might spend two days hand-tuning a sorting algorithm instead of two hours using a code library or copying a suitable algorithm from a book. The typical computer science graduate typically needs several years of on-the-job training to accumulate enough practical knowledge to build minimally satisfactory production software without supervision. Without appropriate formal education, some software developers work their entire careers without acquiring this knowledge."

Predictably, the UK industry has responded to this problem by eliminating most entry level jobs, shipping the rest offshore or filling them with equally inexperienced - but much cheaper - imported computing trainees, and firing all the more experienced staff who might be able to impart the necessary skills to the next generation.

But when they've trashed the IT industry, which industry will they go for next in this ever-accelerating global slash-and-burn war on working people? Perhaps if they start outsourcing journalism, somebody might actually pay attention.

With apologies to anybody who knows the original...

First they came for the steelworkers, and I did not speak out -- because I was not a steelworker.

Then they came for the miners and I did not speak out -- because I was not a miner.

Then they came for the IT workers and I did not speak out -- because I was not an IT worker.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

Thanks Matt

We appreciate you giving us your time and views.

By the way journalism is already outsourced. The web has brought about citizen journalism. Anybody with a smartphone and a camera can call themselves a journalist these days. They can make more money than us poor hacks.

There is even a writing pool being created in India to offer websites quick news at low cost.

Nobody is safe. Even those well protected workers on the continent will see offshoring hit them soon.

Where are you based Matt? We should meet up.

email me on if you fancy lunch.

Indian should first strive for equality and fair treatment of its own citizens with in country rather than crowing about american protectionism.

Protectionism is openly practiced in informal way in states like maharashtra and Gujarat, Tamilnadu, non locals are not expected to stay in any IT company for more than two years and non local will be sacked after 2 years of working (if they dont leave voluntarily) so that they dont grow up the mangement ladder.

This phenomenon is very marked in the city of Pune where non maharashtrians are strictly forbidden from management roles in pune companies.

Pune has a few hundreds of Management institutes which charge about a million rupees(capitation fee) for the poor quality 18 month MBA course and provide placement (in collusion with HR department of companies in Pune).

The current working conditions in Indian IT sectors are already bordering on slave labour with people made to put in 12-14 hours of work daily an being expected to work on weekends voluntarily (without compensation). Each cycle of recession brought its dose of deteoration in working conditions. Many IT firms in India openly flout labour laws and indulge in exploitative employment. IBM india job portal seeks confirmation from applicants that they will work extended hours and weekends for indefinite period without compensation of time, and log only 8 hours in the time sheet.


Very interesting to hear an inside view of the Indian IT sweatshop industry. Sounds like you guys need a strong trade union perhaps? Maybe the long term solution will be for international labour to start organising as effectively and ruthlessly as international capitalism already does...

One element that is rarely discussed is risk. Like many others the bank I work for is off-shoring the bulk of it's IT work. This leaves no one on shore with the necessary skills to a) Check systems for fraud and b) Fix urgent issues. With no new people there is no pipe-line feeding the on-shore IT community. Since the banks nearly brought the country to it's knees I would have expected better regulation to ensure someone was left "watching the shop".

After all would you put the defence of the country in the hands of a third party.