back to article IT pay jumps as skills gap widens

The IT skills shortage in the UK is being made worse by the routine offshoring of entry-level tech jobs. Income Data Services’ (IDC) latest findings on IT pay for 2008 shows that offshoring low-levels IT jobs to the likes of China and India has led to fewer graduate opportunities because firms are reluctant to invest in their …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IT pay rates climb

    The article comments that as entry-level jobs are outsourced, career development and training suffer, and mid-level and upper-level skills become scarce and expensive.

    I'm reminded of the motorcycle industry in the UK during the 1950s and the early 1960s. As Japanese competition got increasingly fierce in the "small bike" sector (50cc to 250cc), Norton, Triumph, BSA and the others retreated upmarket and left the low end market to the Japanese. Suddenly, around 1968, the Japanese manufacturers arrived in the upmarket sector with 4 cylinder 750cc bikes which were better and cheaper than the British offerings. By 1972, the British bike industry was GONE.

    Are we seeing the same pattern here?


  2. Gordon Pryra


    Stuff the kiddies

  3. Justin

    Where's Mine

    Where is my payrise????????

  4. Steve Browne

    Nice to see the CBI involved

    I wonder whom the CBI think is doing the offshoring, so dissuading people from considering a career in IT.

    CBI members off course. So, having dumped these jobs overseas, they now complain that no one wants to do them any more. Maybe, just maybe, if the CBI membership treated their staff as having some worth, then perhaps these problems would not have happened in the first place.

    Physician, heal thyself!

  5. Grant Quinn

    When entry level doesn't mean entry level.

    I graduated with a CS degree last year from a well respected university. I'll admit I wasn't a 1st class honours student, but after several years at uni I can program and design software well enough. I also have a fair amount of support experience now, having worked on a helpdesk for the past year.

    My biggest issue was that pretty much every employer I looked at, even for jobs marketed as junior or entry level, wanted commercial experience. How are you supposed to get that before reaching entry level?! I'll probably end up out of IT at this rate as my skills stagnate. I accept responsibility for my career not being stellar, I should have studied harder, learnt more, launched my own open source project etc... but I'm not the only one who has struggled to get my career going as several of my friends have IT qualifications of some kind but are stuck doing menial jobs. One of my friends is making more than me as a waiter.

    If the IT industry wasn't so determined to only employ those with experience, we wouldn't have such a skills gap. There is no shortage of people who want to work in IT, there's a shortage of people willing to train and develop talent that's out there.

  6. David Buckley
    Dead Vulture



    really....and in the real world....

  7. Joe K
    Paris Hilton

    *nelson* HAW HAW!

    1./ Offshore to morons to save money

    2./ ???

    3./ Profit!

    4./ Hire highly paid contractors (if you can find them) to clear up the disasterous mess that resulted from step 1

    /Paris, cos even she'd do a better job than some project managers

  8. Anonymous Coward


    I'm glad I am where I am today! (support + sysadmin)

    I certainly found it very hard to get my first entry level IT job 2 years ago, I ended up forking out 5 grand for courses from, to get some Windows and Hardware qualifications, it was my only way in.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    IT's dead end job, with no prospects...

    about time someone piped up about the implosion of IT jobs.

    Well if it stops the like of those mickey mouse training/employment scammers from dumping uber-crap technicians on the market, all the better.

    (I've already been involved in the evaluation and sacking of 5 of those id10t monkeys from IT Projects over the last 9 years) .

    It would also help if the current big industry employers didnt treat thier 1st/2nd line support staff like disposable slaves, were not here to be worked to death, just cos the management want to blow thier budget on golf trips to scotland instead of on paying a half decent rate for current overworked workers and taking on more staff to cope with rising workload from additional projects they keep dreaming up, instead of burning thier staff out.

    (did they even wonder why they have such a high turnover rate of contract staff??? and all of a sudden no agency in the region ia able to supply experienced contractors, cos all the available techie's refuse to work with them as they all complain the managers treat them like dirt).

    If i want to experience burnout again, i'll go back to london and work trade floors...

    in east anglia, there are currently 50+ technicians chasing the same job vacancy.

    and with employers taking the piss at less than £10 per hour, it looks like there will be a lot more.

    time to see about retraining as plumber, car mechanic, supermarket shelf filler(lidl's and Aldi are recruiting again;p )

    mines the green one with blue piping.... (where the price is right) ;p

  10. Sir Runcible Spoon
    IT Angle

    One thing I've noticed

    as one of those 'highly paid contractors', there are some things I have noticed within the British workforce.

    I was fortunate enough to join the internet revolution as a network engineer in '95, and as there weren't very many of us we had to know a bit of everything, including how the whole 'darned thing' (tm) works from voltages to bits to protocols to wiring lengths and duplexes and AS filtering.

    The other day I met a 'firewall' engineer who didn't know anything about routing - I had to restrain myself from shouting "YOU'RE FIREWALL IS A FUCKING ROUTER YOU MORON" because I realised that his training had been focussed on one task. That's what we have now, all specialists and no-one who can think laterally.

    This is why I still have a highly paid contract job, 'coz there aren't many youngsters to knock me off my perch.

    Life's a bitch aint it :D

  11. Gordon Pryra
    IT Angle

    Aside from my silly comment

    I still can't understand some of the job specs agency’s routinely send out. They ask for 3 pages worth of skills and experience and offer the minimum wage in return.

    Some of the bigger name companies are just as bad. Rackspace with their fanatical interviews is a good example of a big company taking the piss and scaring people off.

    Why jump through hoops to work for a full time company, when you can experience exactly the same level of job security, yet earn 5 times more and escape from all the politics and other rubbish that comes with working for them by being a contractor?

    Companies may be complaining that there is no one to do the basic jobs. That is their own fault.

    Why work for shit, get treated like shit and know that you will get sacked/replaced/outsourced at the drop of a hat?

    If I was joining the job market now, then I wouldn’t go near IT or any of its bastard little red-headed cousins.......

  12. Mike Dyne
    IT Angle

    Hard to get a job?

    Sorry, but I just don't get it...

    I've got no qualifications above A/S level, I had no experience of a commercial environment, yet I still got a job as IT tech support...

    10 months later I was offered a contract from another firm offering 160% of my then current salary. A job I only applied for just to "see what happened".

    So that's 2 jobs, in less than a year, with no qualifications and less than a years experience.

    In the end, my current job gave me a pay rise, but the point still stands...

  13. Jason Clery


    "Earlier this month the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that Britain’s brightest kids should be required to study three separate science courses in secondary school to offset a shortage of employees in the IT and science sectors."

    Perhaps the CBI could provide incentive by paying good salaries for these positions?

  14. Luke Wells


    Can't wait to tell the boss that the average rate of pay for my bracket has gone up 23% at my next pay review.

    A load of old bollox really as I'm sure all I will be offered is 2 - 4%

  15. Dan

    Not really for everyone.

    I remember ten years ago going to school to get IT certifications to get into the industry and noticing that most of the class were not going to make it as IT people.

    I think a lot of people tried to get into the sector because there were good paying jobs and they thought, "I can do that, I'm smart." But it really isn't for everyone, plenty of smart people would hate trying to troubleshoot database performance issues, or debugging MS Access VBA class modules, or IPSec VPN tunnels.

    If you don't love the stuff, you won't stay current. Sysadmins who punch out at five and never touch a machine out of the office aren't going to last. Developers who don't code on their spare time for their own personal projects or start teaching themselves the latest language long before their employers ask, aren't going to last.

    The common trait with successful IT people is that they all either have a server farm at their house or are fluent in five or six development environments, or both. The guy with the one MS certification who works from nine to five and doesn't want to touch a PC after hours just won't last.

    I suspect there is probably a fixed percentage of people who actually enjoy the puzzles presented by IT work. Everyone else is short-timing it for the job / pay.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    But really off shoring costs more, the reason is off shoring is now becoming comparable in cost due to increase in the wages and the currency rises.

    Bear in mind that my generation who are in IT were brought up on computers; it takes quite a few IT people in developing countries to counteract a good IT person in the west, but you have to be a master of many skills.

    As the economies of the developing countries are improving the demand for local IT becomes greater and primarily because of language they are the better option.

    So, yeah there is an IT skills gap created by off shoring and most in the industry telling people not to join it. Only those who really really want to do it should have survived that, or the ones not paying any attention. It is best to have IT as a hobby and another skill as a vocation, that is a very strong combination.

    If you don't live, breath and eat IT don't be in IT, there is no place for you. And really you should only work for someone for two years after Uni, from there on in you should build your own business and use your IT skills there, contract, sell, market or produce but don't be embedded. The water is never fine in IT, and don't expect to have much of a social life either, play it right and if you are that way inclined you can retire early.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    computeach and them lot

    well i see it like this computeach and others have flooded the market with morons with no passion for IT just that magic 30 grand they advertise on there adverts in there head.

    Now we have a lot of people who think they have expertise but in fact have learnt IT parrot style and can't apply it, hence why employers have to demand experience, its no good having a "boot camp" MCSE but you have no idea what a piece of RAM look like.

    I used to encounter a similar thing that people on "business information systems" courses that could draw a nice flow chart but couldn't even name simple hardware.

    There are jobs there you just have to talk to people and get your name and reputation about. The you will be in demand rather that chasing the work.

    but like i say just my opinion.

  18. Ishkandar

    Assorted comments

    Sir Runcible Spoon seemed to have hit the nail on the head. I know many kiddies who don't seem to realise that an OS is just a layer that translates what the ordinary joe wants to do into what the machine will understand. They all seemed to think it's some kind of black box and that all manner of horrible evils and devils will spring out if they even try to "peek beneath the hood" !!

    Even the wonderful Mac GUI is nothing more that prettified unix-like commands !! Forget about the 7-layer OSI model !!

    Re. the article - the Bible says,"As ye sow, so shalt ye reap !" If the industry is not prepared to finance and grow the first level kiddies to a competent level of knowledge, soon there will not be anymore second or subsequent level staff to hire in Britain. (reminder to self - start setting up a recruitment agency in the Philippines !! Nice weather, nice girls and lots of mid-level staff crying out for better pay !! )

  19. Head

    Oh yeah i am getting a pay rise...

    ... By moving back to Aus to work. Stuff the UK.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Re: When entry level doesn't mean entry level.

    Welcome to Britain, the only country in the world where skills are irrelevant and you are hired entirely on experience. It does not matter if you can drive a certain system, what matters if you have "touched it".

    I found this out the hard way looking for my last job. At the end of the day I got hired by a non-British manager. That was the only way to break the vicious circle of: "You have not touched system A, version X and so you are not suitable regardless of the fact that you have written system B and worked with all systems C to Z". Even then, after passing the job interview, I got scheduled for an extra interview with two British upper level managers who asked questions _ONLY_ related to experience, none of them to skill.

    This is not surprising, it is in fact a function of outsourcing. Understanding the subject matter is no longer required for management, what is required is to be able to manage a relationship with an off-site crew in Bangalore. As a result the current crop of managers with hiring rights are incapable to interview you based on skill. To put it bluntly - they are not competent enough for that. They can relay only on your experience. And this is the case in 99% of British IT.

    Disclaimer - I have 20+ years of industry experience and top level skills across the board (network, software development and system administration) along with an MSc in a non-IT area. So this is not just a problem at beginner level - it is a problem all the way to the top of the technical skill ladder.

    So frankly, if you want to work in IT your choices are:

    "find non-British manager in a UK organisation" - tough, it may take years.

    "ignore any job postings from British organisations" - does not really help as the local IT department can be run by Mr Faulty.


    The last option is the only sure one. I suggest you check the Australian embassy website. It is good for young people, if you are young you get extra points.

  21. Owen


    Sadly true. I was speaking to a mates son the other day. He's studying computer science or some such. Long story short, he wants to become a tech.

    Fair enough.

    The bit which made me weep insidewas the fact he was looking to buy a new PC outright, as he was to scared to take the lid of his and try updating the components.

    What ever happned to that sense of adventure and fun ? Figuring out how it all worked and the satisfcation when it all came together.

  22. Kevin Kitts

    More bullshit...

    do you honestly think three science classes will offset the fact that paying a citizen at home will cost more than paying some cheap slave producer in another country? If you pull the leg any harder, it'll come off.

    I tried to pick up some programming languages during my time out of the market. However, taking a class doesn't mean anything - employers want documentable work experience now, and too much of it (typically 5 years or more). Add the fact that there's no entry-level jobs (those get outsourced), and you have a vacuum...and the source of the vacuum are those other countries. When high-level employees in the US and UK retire, the mid-level employees get promoted, but there's no low-level employees to promote to replace the mid-level ones. Those mid-level jobs get cut (the low-level jobs were outsourced a long time ago). Then, when the next round of high-level employees retire, there's no one to replace them, and the high-level jobs get cut. Now, you're outsourcing everything. Once that happens, it's like the oil industry - the countries we outsource to can charge us whatever they think we'll pay (and we sure will pay). This is the future of IT in the UK and US if they don't stop outsourcing and give us our jobs back.

    I know, because it's happening to me right now in the US. I've been out of the market for 6 years, and I just got word back that a position I applied for, in the county where I live (mostly rural) had over 100 applicants for that position (PC Technician). I never even got an interview, and I have a BS in Computer Science, a MS in Applied Information Technology, and an A+ Certification! My parents and I spent tens of thousands of dollars in education for this?! College and certifications aren't worth a damn thing!!

    If the government keeps allowing this, there will soon be no jobs in-country besides fast food and hotel jobs. Not even road-building jobs. I mean, why have roads if there are no jobs to commute to? Maybe that's how they plan to solve the budget deficit - if there are no jobs, all of the people will leave the country, and the government won't have to pay for any services anymore. They can disassemble the government, and replace it with a dictatorship by corporations for corporations, and any people who are foolish enough to remain behind will be slaves (literally).

    Flame, because our future is going down in flames as we speak. Stop free trade NOW, or we will all become slaves.

  23. RW
    Paris Hilton

    Henry Ford

    Henry Ford?

    He paid his workers well by the standards of the time so they would be able to buy the cars they manufactured. No fool he.

    Class homework exercise: explain how this is analogous to the issues discussed in the forgoing Register article.

    If this assignment is too challenging, a simpler one: farmers set aside the seed of their best plants to sow in the next season. Explain the analogy.

    The odd thing is that when I was "doing IT", the best programmers and analysts had degrees in all sorts of subjects: psychology, electrical engineering, chemistry, history. It's clear to me that good IT people are born that way, and all their education does is teach them how to think, sensu latu.

    Paris because she's a fabulous success in spite of having (as far as anyone knows) next to no education. She's got the genes for success at what she does.

  24. abigsmurf
    IT Angle

    The reason for a 'skills shortage'

    Here is why there are so few talented people (I speak from personal experience in as a moderately skilled but inexperienced Comp Sci graduate). They look for jobs and get this as a result:

    "junior web assistant wanted. Duties involve uploading press releases to website and general site maintenence.

    Required skills:

    HTML, Javascript, ASP, .net, PHP, Flash, CSS, VBA, obscure CMS v1.3829, Java, C, virtual server. Min 2 years experience needed. £12,000pa"

    Now the job would require 1/3rd of those skills at best and aside from the basics, would need only a light understanding yet you get these ads that are supposed to be entry level requiring an insane range of skills and they don't want to pay for it.

    I lucked out with my job, I was actually applying for something completely different and my boss saw my skills and offered me a web developer job. I'm not a skilled coder by any means by my boss is getting a cheap developer and I'm getting vital skills and experience. We both win. If more employers too a chance with "techies" they can get huge benefits too.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The UK skills shortage & the CBI.

    Couple of points:

    a) The CBI have always regarded IT as a punk's job, unlike the 'professions'. They always resented IT people for that period in the mid-1990's when contractors started getting better money that the accountants, and played thier part in supporting the introduction of IR35, the relaxing of importing offshore resource to flood the the UK market and drive costs down. For them to moan about IT skills shortage now is top grade hipocrisy.

    b) The CBI don't just want the skills shortage infilled. They want it infilled with people prepared to accept fuck-all wages for what is a very highly skilled job. Unfortunately Poland doesn't make IT gurus in numbers. You can be sure they'd have been brought in if they had.

    c) The CBI's members are now shitting themselves not only because there is a skill shortage in the UK, but also because offshore IT costs are escalating to a point where there is no point in using them. The Indians have (to thier total credit) woken up to thier market position and are demanding proper money for work now. The company I work for is struggling to recruit useful people in Mumbai, because of the shortage. Those people with skills are auctioning themselves in the market to the highest bidders.

    d) The point about low-skilled starter jobs in the UK being the first to suffer from a shortage is well made. Since I'm long established I can sit back and laugh about this, safe in the knowledge that skilled work will be in demand for years to come. I only dread what faces me when my PC packs up and there isn't a monkey about to fix it... doh!

  26. Ian
    IT Angle

    On-shore but off-shore

    In the sector of IT I currently work in the company I work for has discovered that it is increasingly hard to compete with those companies who offer offshoring (mainly India, but now being undercut by East Europeans) at off shore prices/rates but the people actually work here in UK on the client's site. Something that perhaps should be addressed to level the playing field for UK workers who by comparison seem alot more expensive.

  27. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    The robots are coming

    The situation down among us industrial robots is much the same, ok it does'nt have the glamour of fixing a server farm, but its fun programming them to grasp the boss by the neck ;-)

    For years the companies that need people like me have used a recruitment policy of 'steal someone from another company' because they are too cheap to train people

    Now we have the problem in that all our senior engineer guys are retiring, leaving us middle aged farts to look after things... but there's no one below us waiting to take our place.

    Oh and the skills set needed with experience :

    Mastercam/Solidworks 2-5 yrs

    Faunc/ISO G-code including macros 5yrs+

    Heidenhain conversational 5 yrs+

    Design and build special purpose fixturing.

    General production problem solving

    Yes all the above earns you a grand total of £21 000 - £24 000 a yr basic

    Which explains why exactly no one wants to do industrial robot programming


    <<<dead chuffed because he got a VNC client tunneling via shh to a remote server for the first time today (there's the IT angle )

  28. Anonymous Scotsman

    Revising the academic framework to provide for British Industry and the international market (tm)

    Is a bad idea. As far as I can tell, the only thing British industry that cannot be outdone/outsourced in is producing :

    1. Toys for degenerate sophisticates (such as transport helicopters, and the hangars to put them in)

    2. Ambrosia Rice Pudding

    "Britain’s brightest kids should be required to study three separate science courses in secondary school to offset a shortage of employees in the IT and science sectors."

    Be nice if someone could come out and make up their minds about what the education system is actually supposed to accomplish. If its investing in (y)Our Future, then by all means, piss the money away as quickly as possible and delay the innevitable until the ship can be fully gutted. But if it is investing in (y)Our Children, then get them to competence in at least two languages as quickly as possible, and give them a chance outside of Australia and New Zealand.

    Sad thing is, I understand the experience wall for new entries; the number of cretins I have had the distinct displeasure of graduating with scares me, not only because of all the pointless work that employment agencies and/or departments consequently have to do, but the shear terror of the thought of certain examples landing a job, and being given a position of potentially abused power over any business's productivity.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Re: The UK skills shortage & the CBI.

    A few minor points:

    Quote: "Unfortunately Poland doesn't make IT gurus in numbers. You can be sure they'd have been brought in if they had."

    It does. But they do not want to come. The major difference between IT gurus and 5 pound per hour strawberry pickers is that the IT gurus a very well aware that 20K in the UK buys them less than 10K in Poland. They are staying there and taking the work there to them. Same for Romania, Bulgaria, etc. Nearly every IT guru CV I see from there has on the bottom "not willing to relocate". They are happy to take your work if you bring it to them and they actually deliver. I know a number of companies that have taken advantage of this opportunity and are using it to get work done. They are paying fairly steep per-head rates for this as well. However they are getting work done and they know that the relationship with the contractor is long term (see below).

    Quote: "The company I work for is struggling to recruit useful people in Mumbai, because of the shortage. "

    The shortage is due to 3 factors.

    1 - useful people are not produced in a "yes sir, we shall do so sir" culture oriented towards cost savings instead of deliverables.

    2 - If anyone was useful he/she has already been imported. The remains are runts and failures, bitter from inability to succeed in their ultimate goal - to escape to the promised land.

    3. - As you correctly noted the very few with skills are auctioning constantly to the highest bidder. However, it is not just the few with skills. It is everyone. When a business is built around the idea that it demonstrates lower per-head costs to its customer, the business cannot maintain successful employee retention. The average time an employee is with one Indian outsourcing company is under 1.5 years. There is no need to say what this does to any long term projects. We all know. Compare this to Eastern European IT companies that in some places even go for 1 year (yes, 1 year) maternity leave entitlement just to secure and retain qualified staff. Salaries, loyalty bonuses, etc - you name it. In fact their IT staff is probably better payed (compared to the living standard in the country) than us in the UK. By far.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    It has already been said ...

    ... but it bears saying again:

    "Earlier this month the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said that Britain’s brightest kids should be required to study three separate science courses in secondary school to offset a shortage of employees in the IT and science sectors."

    Won't work, given the piss-poor salaries in the sciences (and scientific research in particular) - for me, I moved into IT after doing my PhD (in computational physics) and the usual gamut of postdoc appointments because the pay was a hell of a sight better. Losing the ability to roll in at lunchtime and work until 2-3am was a minor inconvenience.

    In addition, from my experience of teaching undergraduate physics and electronics students, the CBI would be better employed in encouraging quality over quantity. You wouldn't believe the number of kids who didn't even have basic calculus ability, and this is for a physics course at a 'top 5' university FFS. To the CBI, I say get your heads out of your arses and take a look at what's going on in the real world. Not giving out A-grade A-level passes with cornflakes would be a very good start.

  31. Pandora

    Accountants are to blame ...

    CBI dont care

    Employers dont care

    They just want to off-shore - its a fad ...has no real-world relevance

    Poor sods left supporting the "entry-level" know-nothings will (as someone said) burn out ...

    Your company doesnt care the have an off-shore centre of (non-)excellence

    Q Is it better to have UK expert cost £X or 10 Off-shore "trainees" cost £X/20

    A the latter if they can do the job ....but (from experience) they seldom can

    ==> False (no) economy


  32. John Benson
    IT Angle

    comp sci for an IT tech job?

    That's the real tragedy. I thought that a comp sci degree was so you could go out and automate serious stuff from scratch, not just chase the latest web programming paradigm.

    I think that we're in a period of degeneration through focus on details and flourishes, not the basics, kind of like the Baroque decadence.

    Whether or not a Classic period will follow is anyone's guess, but my guess is that the Smalltalk crowd may figure prominently in another episode of the Eternal Return featuring Squeaky-clean code.

    (With apologies to aManfromMars)

  33. Glen

    will code for bandwidth

    i have half a degree in software engineering, and im considering dropping out to form my own business.

    Not to make money, but merely to have a portfolio to show when i apply for a proper job.

    Why should i finish when the course is almost completely java based. Im not being taught about pointers, or c# or mfc etc. I get extra marks for using collections and/or swing ffs.

    I would work for £6 an hour (short term) if it got my foot on the ladder.

    Any advice?

    P.s. Sorry about the typos, am writing this from my phone.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shITe wages

    "Average salaries for IT user support techies have leapt 13 per cent to £24,177 in the past year, and systems engineers saw a 9.5 per cent jump to £31,120. Meanwhile, IT project leaders’ pay was up nearly a quarter (23 per cent) in just five years to £47,605, according to the IDS figures."

    The fact that all these salaries are less than what the Tanker drivers were on BEFORE they went on strike tells you everything you need to know about shITe and why you should avoid a career in it.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: will code for bandwidth

    "Any advice?"

    Yep - if you want C#, MFC etc., you'll probably find books relating to the MCSD and friends at your local bookshop. For the cost of a few nights out you can teach yourself. It'll be good practice.

    Bailing on a course just because you're not learning the language du jour is the path of least resistance, IMO (and I've turned away interview candidates for a lot less than that, believe me - no experience of cross-platform development? No thanks.)

    I'm not a fan of Java myself, but since it has proved its worth on a couple of work-related projects recently I'm prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. It's still a marketable skill, too.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Re: The UK skills shortage & the CBI.

    I'm from Poland. I'm here only because my wife doesn't speak polish. Wages in big cities are very often comparable, housing is at least twice cheaper than in UK and general costs of living also. Who would like to relocate?

    Add to that mix managers that have experience AND education so they don't behave like British moronic counterparts. They expect you to work, but at the same time you know where everything's going. Projects are managed not hoped to "turn well". Studies are also much harder (on some degrees 75% people fail to finish them) giving you much more varied skill set. Thus if you throw a problem on an employee you're almost guaranteed they will solve it.

    British managers are stupid. It has been mentioned thousand times. I got 2 degrees, on of them IT. I looked for a job a long while because everybody wanted "commercial UK experience". Thus working during my studies (in Poland) didn't count. Also some complained for level of English - in their perception it needed to be much lower as I'm a foreigner. That's the reason I can put twice as much technical documentation than my British counterparts, making 4 times less errors in the meantime. Without spell checker.

    And now something totally, totally different: British doctors visited Poland to learn how to cut the queues in NHS ;). We don't have this kind of problem there, even accepting we spend 4 times less per person on health system. Go figure!

    Birdie, as IT in UK is like that little birdie... DEAD.

  37. spam

    RE: When entry level doesn't mean entry level.


    how can you attain an entry-level position before graduating? By 'being the best'. I was a first class honours student, got certified in my relevant subject by taking on extra training, so by the 2nd year of uni I was working for one of the major accounting firms, which was awful. Then got placement through working harder than my other colleagues to basically apply sensibly, and got taken on. From there changed jobs to a mid-range paid job despite only graduating a few months before.

    Having seen some CVs that come in there are basically plenty of credible applications for positions in decent businesses (networking, in my case) but obvioulsy the graduates who have only worked in a shop 4 hours a week and still only got a 2:2 are thrown out. It's a combination of image and knowledge.

    Good luck getting out of the helpdesk role, having been there, and taken the advice of a lecturer never ever to go to one, I'm glad I kept trying for positions, as the effort I made during university with placements, and the like, paid off in the end. It's not an easy gap, particularly for software engineers these days, but there are plenty of graduate programmes out there who will work you to the bone in London or Northern Europe. Avoid those, there are plenty of small businesses in the UK. Earning ~£25k as a graduate should not be a problem these days - the main issue is selectively applying for the roles, and ensuring your CV shines.

    If a decent honours student with placements and a packed CV, who has had to miss out the fact they worked in a shop for many hours to pay for it all due to only wanting 'IT' related actions on the CV, has their CV placed on the desk beside yours, how do you stack up? I asked myself this, so took courses acccordingly.

    Good luck again!

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Re: The UK skills shortage & the CBI.

    Just replace 'IT' with 'engineering and anyone over the age of 40 will experience a sudden attack of deja vu.

    @will code for bandwidth.

    You are going to need both the chicken AND the egg so my advice is finish your course WHILE running your own business.

  39. Mr Blonde

    pay peanuts... get monkeys

    Mr. Pot meet Mr. Kettle and understand that both are burned to a crisp,

    No offence intended to our overseas staff however you may fail at helping our customers due to over-estimation of our customers technical capabilities... i.e. pls turn on the power :D

    Your mileage may increase or your alien-nation vary!!!

    Long Live amanfromMars!!!

    Forever may He Live

    n/t or X

    That is the answer

    Not the Question

  40. Anonymous Coward

    looking in the wrong place

    Get the hell out of London or whatever other hell hole you are working/looking for work in and look for Jobs with small companies in rural areas doing innovative things. There are plenty of us, we may not all have VC cash to spend and the wages won't be amazing, you will get experience, often in a range of things and the cost of living will be lower. Just because big business wants to fuck you up the arse doesn't mean the rest of us do.

  41. Lordlorddef
    Thumb Down

    Stop moaning


  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A couple of tips

    I'm involved in the recruitment process at my workplace - a couple of tips for anybody applying after having read a number of CVs...

    Firstly, don't just put the standard Java line in your CV (you know the one that reads something along the lines of "Java, Javascript, J2EE, JSP, AJAX, HTML, CSS, XML" etc) - when I see a CV with that I instantly (probably slightly unfairly in most cases) form a negative opinion, it's far better if people put what they've actually DONE with the technologies.

    Secondly, avoid putting details of projects on your CV that you 'had exposure to', when that basically means you were in the same room as someone working on it. If it's a topic I know anything about then it will be patently obvious in the interview that you didn't actually do it, so don't risk it, it just hurts you in the long run...

  43. Murray Pearson

    This is all no mystery, people!

    I could tell seven years ago that IT was a totally dead field for those in the west, simply because there is no way to compete with outsourced labour. Granted, India's getting expensive; but they'll get undercut by Bangladesh or some other place where people are hungrier and the cost of living is lower.

    For that reason professional IT is a fool's game. The only way to avoid the imploding-job-market trap (which, in the case of the print industry in the 1990s, caught me and wrecked an apparently good career) is to get in an industry where you CAN'T be undercut. In order for that to happen there must be (a) stringent local standards, and (b) no possibility of foreign competition. If you can get (c), an expanding future workload and (d) an elderly, retiring incumbent workforce as well, you've got a golden opportunity. THAT is worth working for!

    And that is precisely why I'm going into civil engineering.

  44. Glen

    @Simon Ward et al

    Thanks for your responses,

    I didn't mean that i wanted to bail because I'm not learning about the current fad, its more that the course is *heavilly* java biased (with a few nods to lisp and shell scripting), and that kind of makes me a one trick pony. Even if i was very good at it, it limits my options.

    I do take the point about path of least resistance. When I see entry level junior web developer position being advertised for 18k+ it is tempting to get a brain dump certificate and try to blag the interview. (speaking as someone who is on essentially min wage.) In reality, it won't prepare me for the job, and a paraphrased "sacked for being rubbish" is not something i want appearing on my C.V.

    Id like to do both, as AC said, but then money becomes a worry (paying for myself @ uni and all that) although there are obviously people worse off than I am. I'll have to see how it goes, and yikes, work hard. :)

    Thanks again for your responses.

  45. Steve Massey

    My views

    I got a honours degree in IT back in 97. I then got a job (via my father) contracting for a year. All i did was look after the stocks system (which i was very bad at). Once that contract ended, i decided to start at the bottom and work my way up (IT helpdesk, changing passwords for a large multi-national company).

    Fast forward 10 years, i'm now part of the Strategic Initiatives IT team for the same blue-chip company, and moved to their european datacenter in central Europe.

    I've now actually quit, and am in the process of moving back to the UK to start a new job / career for a much, much smaller company (but much more technical) - which was the first job i serious applied for once i handed in my notice. The job had been advertised for over a year, and it was (sorry to say) a huge ego boost to get the job after they had interviewed over 30 applications and rejected 100's of CV's.

    I honestly believe, that people coming out of uni, with their degree's think that they can land a 30K per year consultantacy position are mis-guided. People need to understand that a degree means nothing without the experience behind it. Many of the students who have trained in our company believe that they are THE IT experts, when there are far more things to understand in IT other than being able to use a PC and Office - business needs for one thing (hence the desire for "experience" in the job adverts).

    An IT degree is like a seed, it needs to be watered with "business experience" to be able to grow in the work-force.

    And lastly everything i learnt in uni, has had no impact in my job... ever. It's just a way to show an employer that you are not a lazy-ass person and can learn new ideas, processes / systems as needed.

    There's jobs out there, and easy to get - but setting the barrier so high will simply lead to dissappointment.

    (sorry for any spelling mistakes, it's late and i couldn't be bothered to correct them).

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those young uns thinking about a career in IT

    don't bother - it really is a dead end street.

    It boom, busts all the time which is awful for cashflow. Find something else and keep your interest in IT.

    There is no pot of gold, there is no rainbow even :)

    Oh, and if you think you are good it will burn you out faster than anything else, not really because of the work, but if you hit a dry spell you won't know what to do, you will have been so deep in the code, that when you stop it is like doing cold turkey.

    Become a lawyer, musician, roadie, tailor, gardener, baker, fisherman, candlestick maker, lorry driver, but don't touch IT with a barge pole. IT is just all consuming there is no balance, you are either good at it and that is what you do 24/7, or you are just a passenger without a clue, the former will mean you will do the work of the latter, and the latter well they are just a bum on a seat feeling inadequate.

    Mark my words, if you enjoy IT, and by that I mean you can; compile your own kernel, hack a driver module from scratch, know coding from assembly to 4GL with multiple languages in between, configure most of the major server applications, create dynamic websites, construct robust databases, know a few operating systems including CISCO, understand a few network protocols (TCP/IP suite), build your own systems and wield a soldering iron, if you know and can do all that then still DO NOT go into IT, find something else and keep IT as your hobby you can use to leverage another vocation.

    Signed - Last of the Developers

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Make Degrees failable

    If you couldnt be garanteed some sort of qualification for paying your fees for 3 years then a degree might be worth something.

    I have recently graduated, and frankly wouldnt employ anyone i graduated with. although im lucky enough to have worked in the industry for a good 5 or 6 years before i started my studies, the abilities or lack there of the majority of students i had the displeasure of working with was laughable.

    Prehaps the most shocking example to me was a workplacement student employed by an ex employer of mine, who took 4 weeks to get halfway through a drag and drop flash game. who could only grasp how to use if statements (gormless look when i mentioned switch statements to him) and was completely baffled by the concept of a 'for each loop' and this was after doing 2 years of a CS Degree

    The most depressing thing is that he will be graduating next year, probably with honours :-(

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Really this bad?

    Am i really as doomed as everyone is making out on here. What career really is secure in the current world, isn't everyone feeling the same way about their degree?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Dan

    I took my break in employment courtesy of a cabbies stupidity. I stayed on the tools, studied. I can't even get an interview. Mention a gap in your employment history and/or serious injuries (as in my case) and your done. Don't mention it and you have a gap in your CV that they want explained......

    Whilst I haven't been able to gain paid employment charitable organisations have been eager to avail themselves of my services. Unfortunately they don't consider IT an essential "core" activity (even with a PC on every desk and much business (not quite all) performed on the PC) even the one that dealt with the supply of recycled kit, hence will never consider paying for support/administration. To be fair, the poor buggers have to stretch every quid to the limit.

    I'm increasingly of the opinion that I have turned my last buck in IT. As an example, the handful of positions advertised by my local council all go to folk from the flavour of the month contracting company with ads worded in such a way as to make applications from those without a close relationship with EDS/Crapita (proprietary software...) or whomever worthless.

    The one interview I gained in the last couple of years saw the job go to a kid of 18 who was paid minimum wage and commuted 60 miles (round trip) by public transport each day. The last graduate opportunity I saw advertised in the area was described as "meets minimum wage".

    As far as I'm concerned, I'm not surprised that there's a crisis in the IT industry. All of it down to the smeg heads running it.

    Never fear though.... apparently under new regs proposed by the government I will shortly have to work full time as a volunteer for sub minimum wage on "community service" (quite likely alongside convicted perps) whilst some government appointed contracting company gets a nice bounty for placing me in such a wonderful position. Such is the bounty being discussed that were I to receive around 10 or 15% of that bounty, plus minimum wage I would be an extremely happy bunny.

    CBI ? Politicians ? Pah ! A pox on all their houses.

  50. Geoff
    Paris Hilton

    @ Dan, Re: Not really for everyone

    I disagree with you. You dont need to have a server farm at home to maintain your proficiency in IT. Actually, most of the things I have chosen to specialise in are cost prohibitive in terms of setting up a home rig and I chose them for this very reason. In any case, success in IT is not about grabbing on to the latest trend and training up for it, it's about finding a niche other people aren't covering, because it's difficult to get in to, if you do this, your skills have a better shelf life and they are more valuable, yes there is less work, but you will get paid more for it, which smoothes out the bumps.

    I started out in IT in 2000 as a Windows Support person, dealing with Citrix (and by this I mean MetaFrame / Presentation Server / XenApp) primarily, it would be safe to say that I rode on the back of Citrix for about 5 years, because it was a niche product to start with, so any experience of it was good enough for an employer and then by the end, I was very good with it and as a result, much in demand. I still do a bit of Citrix now, but only really because I come across it in pretty much every environment I go in to, which means everybody has skills in it now, so consequently it's near enough worthless as a marketable skill.

    If I had to start from scratch now, I wouldn't choose to study Citrix, because there are too many people that are very good with it (and too many people who claim to be good with it that can pass an interview, which is equally as threatening). As an example, of this, I have skipped the whole Cisco track, never bothered with an MCSE and I've not bothered studying for VMWare either, why? Because everybody else is playing there already, why study for the hot skills, when all it attracts is hot competition and then in a year or two you have to train for the next thing.

    Paris, because she's got skills

  51. Trix

    The irony, it burns us

    Yeah, fab, pump out more over-qualified people for techie jobs - you need a CS degree for systems architecture and maybe programming, not for administration and desktop support - and then refuse to hire them because they lack experience.

    Meanwhile, the CBI is outsourcing all those entry-level jobs that junior techies could be using to gain that much-needed experience.

    Also, pay and requirements is a joke. If I was going to take a job that required in-depth networking knowledge, systems administration and some programming (in more than one language, often), I'd want to be paid more than 20K in London. Whoever does the hiring should get real about what skills they actually require for the role, not just try and replace the poor sod who did everything by themselves for a pittance, and then got jack of it.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    I've dealt with these "offshore" techies

    Offshore techies are to ability what shit is to Chocolate mouse – you whip it up and it can look similar, and even fit in the same spaces, but the effect and end result are vastly different.

  53. This post has been deleted by its author

  54. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Thumb Up

    Some advice for people starting out

    Disclaimer : I started in the internet field just when it started, so my view may be skewed. Treat with caution :)

    Advice : It's all very well focussing on the technology (it's what IT is all about after all isn't it? ). No. I have been successful because of my attitude. I know this because although I am quite clever, I don't bother keeping up with all the latest techologies unless it slaps me in the face as an immediate requirement - therefore I learnt to learn quickly and be able to apply that knowledge as I'm learning it.

    A 'can do' attitude is pretty rare these days, so go for that and you will build a reputation for yourself. Keep your contacts - the IT world is *very* small in real terms. Don't fuck anyone over to get to the top coz you *will* meet them again :) Don't be stingy with your knowledge, if people require help, help them and they will help you when you are stuck (very important as you can't know everything -or in my case, anything).

    I recently started a contract in the City for a financial firm (usually hard roles to pick up if you haven't worked in one before). The attitude of the permies when I started was that they expected me to be a 'typical' contractor. This was an eye opener for me because I didn't know what a typical contractor was supposed to be. Suffice to say that they thought I would be a work-shy take-the-money-and-run fuckwit.

    Happy to say they now treat me like any other permie. There's still the old pay difference axe-to-grind issue, but they are more accepting of it because I make a difference. If I run short of work I look for ways in which I can help the team become more efficient. Do some of the shit work (audits and process documentation) that no-one else wants to do - they'll love you for it because it means they don't have to do it. After all, for the money they're paying me I'd clean the toilets with a toothbrush. In fact I said that in the interview.

    Good attitude = something not many others have = tradeable skill.

    Good luck.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Hard to get a job? By Mike Dyne

    Totally agree.

    I left school at 16 (6 years ago), got my first full-time job at 18 and was in an IT role just under three years later, and earned good money along the way.

    And, surprise surprise, the most reliable way to maximize your income is to MOVE TO A DIFFERENT COMPANY, not sit around moaning about rises/inflation.

    There is a perfectly good gateway industry to IT, and it is called Commercial/Transactional Printing ;)

    Alternatively, this is all the advice you need;


  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Recruitment process to blame

    I have recently been unemployed for over a year and a half despite having great knowledge of MS systems, SAN storage, Web development, virtulisation, heavy duty scale load balancing and redundancy as well as a CS Degree. Basically everything a mid to large enterprise needs from a high end sysadmin.

    Yet after the job I was originally moving to fell through, no one would touch me because of the gap. When I went after sysadmin jobs they would tell me they needed an MCSE despite years of actual experience. In the end I did what the job center advised and lied about the gap and luckily I had the cash to go and do the MCSE using resources from the net. (which only took 2 weeks because I already had the knowledge).

    I tried for much lower paid jobs doing web development and recruiters who didn't have a clue came out with ridiculous reasons like I did not have xhtml listed or stylesheets. It would be great if even if they don't have any technical skill that they could learn some basics like the fact that CSS is stylesheets. Then if you list both they complain that you are just listing technologies and not saying what you did with them.

    I was often sent to interviews for jobs based on completely different skills than I had listed and employees were often complaining that they were sent the wrong types of people.

    And employers themselves often didn't know what they wanted. A technical guy would ask some questions which if they were relevant I would do well at and then some HR person would ask things about giving a presentation or dealing with some completely unlikey conflict between imaginary collegues that you wouldn't even get involved in in the first place.

    And then if you got through all that, a lot of companies despite acknowledging that I had all the skills they were after would say I was asking too much because I didn't have x qualification or because I had not worked for a while. Completely ignoring the fact that they had been impressed by y skill which was something extra that they could do with. And it would be a straight no, no negotiation or discussion about what salary would be reasonable or why.

    It seems to me that recruiters/companies are being entirely too picky about skills which are irrelevant or a bonus and not picky enough (or not skilled enough to ask the right questions) about the actual technical skills. And not being prepared to take on people who need to learn or switch to a technology. (eg. an experienced programmer who transfers from Java to C# may well be a lot better within weeks than a noob who has written an app in C# already)

    Luckily it ended well for me, I was offered a reasonable salary by a company who knew one of my previous employers and snapped me up as soon as they finally got my CV (It took the recruiter 2 months to decide to put me forward!) I am more than capable of doing the job and they seem as happy about it as I am.

    So my advice is avoid recruiters, take a chance on someone who is smart but doesn't have quite the right skillset, if you are going to ask questions, ask about general concepts to make sure they have a good background rather than specifics about x function of y technology or 'which menu is the v option in w application'. Its tempting to use any excuse to rule someone out when you have a lot of CVs to go through, but you may well be overlooking just the person you need.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    @Dan: It's time to give up

    I've been programming since I was 5 (ok it was basic but we all start somewhere). I taught myself assembly language on the z80 (a ZX spectrum) when I was about 10 and a bit of 6502 when I was a teenager. Aside from some laptops, a 2nd hand IBM PS/2 and a SparcStation I've never owned a computer I didn't build myself.

    I passed 4 A levels, went to uni, studied maths, taught myself C at uni, and picked up linux, shell scripting & perl in my spare time while working for £2.50/hr in a computer factory where among other things I diagnosed broken motherboards using an oscilliscope so they could be sent back to the supplier for a refund. I lucked into a better techie job working and after a few years I left it to go contracting.

    That was about 10 years ago. Since then I've worked as a contractor and have years of *commercial* experience with both oracle & SQL Server as both DBA and developer, as well as unix & windows admin, networking (I've written perl scripts to auto configure cisco routers for a big ISP), C development on Unix and about 5 years of Java EE (which I also taught myself), XML, XSL, Web Services and so on as well as basic web design. I've done a bit of c# .Net, I once built a website using php and I have run maintained my own DNS, mail and web servers for several years (I picked this up working for ISPs).

    Unfortunately most of these skills have been developed and used in conjunction with a popular software suite that runs on said OS, uses said databases and integrates with other systems through the use of C and Java. Which means they count for *shit all* when I apply for a job.

    Because I haven't used popular suite v7 much (ok and because with a family I just can't afford to work for some of the sub 30k wages I've seen advertised) I've been unemployed for months. I don't even get called back by the agencies most of the time. The fact that I have used every version since v2 counts for nothing. The fact that I can diagnose oracle performance issues by writing queries in SQL Plus counts for nothing. The fact that I can point out that Java and Javascript aren't the same thing but I still use both counts for nothing.

    The primary skill shortage in this country is in management, who are generally so clueless as to how IT systems, and particularly people, actually work that they are forced to blindly tick a list of procedural boxes in the hope that it will be enough to cover their arse in the event of a shit-fan collision. Within most organisations technical staff, however multitalented, are pigeonholed into neat little boxes, not allowed to perform functions outside of their silo and often not allowed to interact except through formal processes. An ability to learn and adapt without recourse to formal training goes largely unacknowledged, taking the initiative is frowned upon and a willingness or desire to do things outside of ones formally recognised sphere of expertise is considered dangerous.

    In the past, while working for a FTSE 100 company, I have specced a server, taken delivery, fitted the extra processors and RAM, racked it, set up the network, and installed and configured the OS, database, application server, and the app itself. I doubt there is a single listed company that would *allow* a single member of staff to do that these days.

    The days of my old boss 'logging on and restarting the process' to fix a problem because he'd got in before the rest of the team are long gone. These days he'd be disciplined by senior management for having his own login.

    This is how "IT Best Practice" is implemented in practice when management lack the technical nous to recognise and properly exploit the talented.

  58. Edward

    Bah! Entry level indeed.

    I quit school at 16 to go an work as a programmer. I got a job on a support desk for a year, before going to work for a web design company. Since then I have changed jobs twice, and dispite my age, each time was a major step up. I now hold a senior position in a company specialising in bespoke financial software.

    So I came in at an "entry level", and have never had a problem advancing my career, not once did I lose a job to an outsourced firm. So from my perspective, there is no problem.

    Over the years, I've worked with a great many graduates, on their first year out of Uni. Now of course there are exceptions, but I have found that the vast majority are not particularly good at their jobs.

    It is little wonder employers insist on commercial experiance, because from what I've seen Uni doesn't prepare you for the commercial world and I'm not talking about business procedures here, I'm talking about basic programming skills. Sure they might be able to draw a tree in Matlab, but ask them to write a CMS system and they'll reel off some barely-related-jargon and disappear for a week before admitting defeat.

    My point is, I don't think there is so much a problem with entry level IT in this country, as there is with entry level programmers in this country.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What Rubbish is all of this???

    The trick is... to have a brain, a personality, and sometimes, a current job helps.

    When I left university a scant 3 years ago, it took me 6 months to find a temp job in IT, this was as I lacked the experience that everyone is talking about above. I have a 3rd class honours in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from a well respected university. After two weeks as a temp, I was taken on permanently, on about that quoted average for IT support tecchies. Apparently 2 weeks is enough experience if they can see you have aptitude for a job. 8 months later, they promoted me to a job that would normally require 5 years experience (not 8 months), and almost doubled that salary.

    I recently got fed up, (about 2 years down the line) wanted to focus more on the systems I enjoyed, and decided to post my CV on the internet. Less than two weeks after posting my CV, I'd had a job interview with a company known and respected worldwide, and accepted their job offer. I'll be moving to a place with a lower cost of living, and maintaining the same salary I was paid when I was living on the edge of London. I will also be working exclusively on the system of my choice, the IBM iSeries/AS400/System i, whatever you want to call it (IBM don't know what to call it, thats for sure).

    I was hired for my mainframe job despite in my interview saying 'I've never touched one before, and I'd never seen one before a fortnight ago', and 8 months later I was the Analyst in charge of the system. Show some skills, you'll find a job. Show a lack of aptitude, a negative attitude, or fail to know the difference between a DLT and an Ultrium backup tape at a backup administrator interview, and you wont.

    Paris 'cause she could find a job in any IT department in the land....

  60. evilbobthebob


    Well, if management is so crap, it'd be best to go into that instead of IT...

  61. Anonymous Coward

    too many chumps floating around

    I came to the UK as a backpacker, after a few months of working in bars i decided to do a bit of contracting (2004, it was £40/hr and I was 21 years old, no degree, just 2 years of intensive experience, I got that by working for FREE to get my foot in). I was lucky that the company and I got on well and they continued to contract me to different customer's sites for the next few years. I have literally travelled the world at their expense and continue to enjoy working in the UK (with inflation beating rates).

    I always considered myself lucky but after working in countless IT teams with various customers all over the world & UK, I was not impressed with the level of competency from the majority of development teams here (and that includes offshore teams), in most cases there are 1 or 2 guys worth their salt but most are real numpties.

    thaaank you great britain! please dont stop funding my adventures! I still have many women to meet and places to see ;-)

  62. Chris Cook

    simple answer...

    Once the CBI figure out how to get 2+ years commercial experience of a technology without being able to get a job using it, it'll all be sorted.

    Could do with a decent apprenticeship scheme, so that graduates could get a _basic_ job with _basic_ requirements for minimum wage.

  63. Matt

    Degree not worth the paper it's printed on?

    I concur with the theme that seems to be running here - a good degree alone (or even at all) is not necessarily worth much...

    I did a BSc in CS and managed to get a First, which was nice, but the amount of interviews I did before landing a job was scary. Luckily I'd a few things backing me up, which sealed the deal. During college I had gotten summer jobs working as a junior programmer for a small firm that produced financial software. I'm slightly ashamed to say that even after 2 years of the (4 year) course I only heard what the registry was during the work. I did the same again after 3rd year, then during final year I worked in a call centre (not IT related). I managed to convince the manager that my time would be better spent writing some software to them that would analyse and present stats to them, than if I was answering calls. He agreed, so I did that.

    While seemingly small things these summer jobs and blagged experience was what got my foot in the door, I later found out just how - my first real job was with a large, well known consulting firm. Within a few weeks I was given a task by an overworked HR person to vet some new graduate CVs - I was given strict criteria - bin them if they didn't have a 2.0 degree at least (so that's only the first step) then they needed some form of practical experience, a willingness to travel, also extra activities that weren't IT related - so if your hobby was "running own server farm" you were ditched. And then the hard to quantify "fit with the company culture". Following these rules I had to ditch at least one outstanding CV - the guy had a first, a masters, loads of decent lab experience - but still didn't make the grade.

  64. Steve

    Obvious solution

    Surely the solution to the degree and no experience problem has been presented?

    When I did my degree (13 years ago) I did a sandwich course. I did a maths degree and got a job for a year at Lockheed Martin. It was fantastic, I learned Visual C++ and that year (with good references) allowed me to pick up a job as soon as I left uni.

    Maybe things have changed from that now, I do not know. However, the years experience that you get from that kind of course is invaluable!

    Another thing I was told by a HR interviewer after I got another job was that I was interviewed because my CV contained things that I did outside of work and was successful at e.g. senior grade in martial arts and international softball player. These things show that you can get your arse in gear.

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