IT graduates face high unemployment but better long-term prospects

IT graduates more likely to find better jobs than those from other subjects, but face an unemployment rate well above average

Graduates with a first degree in IT and computing are more likely than average to find good jobs within six months of graduation, according to research from Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU).

The What do graduates do? report reveals what 256,350 full and part-time degree graduates were doing in January – six months after they had graduated. Of these, 9,000 were computer science and IT graduates.

The number of unemployed IT and computing graduates dropped from 14.8% in 2013 to 13% this year, but this is still higher than the average rate of unemployment for graduates at 7.3%.

The research found IT graduates were also more likely to be working in professional or managerial roles (77.8%) when compared to graduates of all subjects (66.3%).

Of the IT graduates surveyed, 56.7% were working as IT professionals. The most popular roles included programmers and software developers (25.8%), web designers and developers (8.1%) and IT user support technicians (6.5%).

Charlie Ball, deputy director of research at HECSU, said: "Those leaving university with a degree in computer science and IT do much better in the labour market than many other graduates, with the majority enjoying full-time employment in professional-level jobs.

"The high unemployment rate early on in their careers could be down to them hanging on for what they want; there is speculation that many IT and computing graduates, having worked hard to get their degree, are reluctant to settle for jobs that don't pay enough, are part-time or not directly related to their degree."

The report also revealed that the range of salary for full-time computer science and IT graduates exceeded that of all graduates at £16,880 to £29,690. The average for all students was £18,615 to £22,785.

"The last 18 months are a fascinating example of how quickly the market can change, so students must bear this in mind when deciding which subject to study and seek careers advice early on," added Ball.

A recent Higher Education Statistics Agency’s (HESA) report Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Institutions 2012/13 focused on "What 2012/13 graduates did next" and found that 13% of students who graduated with a first-class degree in computer science were unemployed.

Also, computer science accounted for the highest number of unemployed students taking science-based degrees, followed by engineering and technology (8.7%).

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