Offshoring IT is not making UK computer scientists the largest unemployed group, says BCS

This blog has been focussing quite heavily on the potential damage to the UK IT industry caused by offshoring work to lower cost locations.


I recently quoted the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) which revealed that recent Computer Science graduates have the highest proportion of unemployed recent graduates.  Some 17% of 2009 graduates of computer science are unemployed say the figures. And many of the other 83% might not be doing a job related to their degree.


This blog post has had a lot of reaction. Although the majority of comments came from the “offshoring is destroying the UK IT profession” camp there are counter arguments.

I have contacted the British Computer Society (BCS) to get its view and got some interesting feedback.


Bill Mitchell, director of BCS Academy of Computing, says it is not the case of offshoring and outsourcing is destroying the UK IT industry it is just that the low skilled jobs are being outsourced.


And he said the HESA figures are misleading because only 71% of the computer scientist category is pure computer scientists. “The figures are correct, but they aggregate various IT related degree courses under the title of Computer Science.


Mitchell is very positive about the job opportunities for pure computer scientists at good universities.


Here’s what he had to say:


“If you have a low skilled job there is a higher chance of your job being outsourced but if you are a software developer developing complex software you are very much in demand.”


“When I’ve spoken to anybody from a good university they say almost all their graduates are getting jobs.”


“We have spoken to several businesses and they say there is a shortage of computer science graduates.”


“One or two of the large companies we have spoken to are going to Eastern Europe or the Middle East because there is a shortage of Computer Science graduates in the UK.”


“If you look at all industrial sectors across the European Union 25% of all business spending on R&D is spent on IT. This compares to 13% on pharmaceuticals.”


Here is the breakdown of the computer science category according to HESA.


Broadly-based programmes within computer science   0.15%
Computer science          71.11%
Information systems      20.10%
Software engineering     7.71%
Artificial intelligence      0.68%
Others                          (no figure)

“The term Information Systems is also confusing. It means very different things to different Universities, so that the amount of computing content in a CIS degree is very variable,” add Mitchell.