Bean counters make way for button pushers

Top IT graduates are highly sought after in the finance and retail sectors, as Britain's economic performance comes to rely on their skills. By Paul Gosling

Britain's IT industry needs to recruit an extra 50,000 skilled workers if it is to cope with the demands placed on it, according to a report published last week by the European Information Technology Observatory. Without more staff it is not just the sector that will suffer but the whole of British industry, so integral is IT now to the country's economic performance.

Many in the industry believe the European single currency is a much more difficult challenge than the more widely discussed Year 2000 crisis. Even without Britain's membership in the first wave of the Euro currency, all major British corporations trading in Europe will have to enable their systems to account for sterling and Euro transactions alongside each other.

Greg Liddington, director of specialist IT recruitment agency Parallel International, believes that the commercial consolidation that will accompany the single currency will itself bring a strong additional demand for IT graduates. This will be particularly true in the financial services and retail sectors, where corporations will move into new regions. The financial sector may also be involved in new privatisation issues in many countries that have previously lagged behind British experience.

There are tremendous opportunities for graduates - it has never been greater," says Mr Liddington. Graduates with the right skills mix are in the strongest position. Skills in demand, he says, are ability to programme in languages C++, Visual Basic and Delphi, familiarity with databases and ability to develop intranets.

Graduates who combine these IT skills with other professional qualifications stand the best chance of rising to senior management positions, suggests Mr Liddington. The strengthening of the European market will place greater value on languages, especially German, and fluency in three languages is regarded as helpful.

Banks prefer their graduates working in IT to have a sound understanding of the wider business environment, adds Mr Liddington. In particular, the collapse of Barings has illustrated the need for banks to have effective risk management systems, staffed by high-calibre people with strong IT skills and a thorough understanding of derivatives and other complex financial instruments.

According to specialist IT companies, too few graduates emerge from universities with the skills needed to walk into vacant jobs. A survey conducted last year for Microsoft found that only 20 per cent of IT managers, and just 13 per cent of corporate IT managers, believed that IT graduates were well equipped for the workplace. The survey confirmed the view that the biggest problem is in the finance sector, where there is a very high level of unfilled vacancies.

Offering large salaries is the usual method adopted to retain and recruit quality staff. Microsoft's Debbie Walsh says that this auction to attract good staff into the private sector is part of the reason why too many students are leaving university unsuited for their future work. "We have known for some time now that there is a serious IT gap," says Ms Walsh. "This research set out to look for causes and potential solutions. It has highlighted that business is really looking to education to solve the issue, yet this sector is ironically the worst hit by a shortage of IT skills."

The response of some IT companies is to start looking outside IT courses for the graduates who will do their IT jobs. Oracle is recruiting 180 graduates this year, having recruited 150 last year, to go into product development, training and consultancy. The company has concentrated on taking on science graduates, but increasingly is willing to take on graduates from other disciplines such as history and psychology if they can demonstrate that they have analytical minds, are articulate and are enthusiastic about IT.

Gay Brogden, recruitment director for Oracle in Europe, says: "Our priority is the best graduates who are enthusiastic about technology and what it can do, rather than an absolute technical ability - because we can train people in technological skills, but we can't train them to be enthusiastic about it. We would not preclude someone whose only involvement with technology had been part of a course, though the majority of our entrants have had a technical background."

The IT graduate is in a happy position in today's commercial environment. As Tom Lovell, manager of Reed Graduates, says: "Top quality IT graduates are now in the enviable position to be able to pick and choose their employment. In fact, research from Reed Graduates shows that graduates with an IT degree are three times as likely to get a permanent job within a year of leaving university than the average graduate."

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect