Monday, 24 August 2009

Entry-level IT jobs

(By Richard Holway 2.00pm Monday 24th Aug 09) Further to my post yesterday - Entry-level IT jobs as BT abandons graduate programme – The Times today - BT suspends graduate recruitment programme – adds:

“The Graduate Market in 2009, by High Fliers, a research company, based on research with The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers, found that recruitment targets for 2009 have been cut by 28 per cent since October.
Of the 20,000 graduate vacancies originally advertised for this academic year, at least 5,500 have been cancelled or left unfilled, with the worst losses in telecoms, investment banking, IT and pharmaceuticals, where entry-level vacancies have halved.”

This sorry state of affairs was confirmed by the Association of Graduate Recruiters which found that graduates jobs have been cut by 25% this year alone. 48 graduates compete for every job on offer. IT was the worst hit area with a 44.5% decline. I was just amazed to find that IT now represents just 1.1% of graduate vacancies. (Accounting leads the table at 24.4%)

This situation in IT is reminiscent of – but far worse than - the situation in the years after the 2000 bubble burst. In 2002 graduate jobs fell by ‘only’ 6.5% - although IT was worse affected. But this let the offshore providers in. They took on hoards of graduates and trained them. These staff now have 5+ years experience and are able to provide the core workforce (what we disparagingly call the 'vanilla flavoured jobs') at much reduced rates. In research we conducted a few years, we estimated that c40% of all UK IT services by job numbers (not revenue) in 2009 would be undertaken either offshore or by employees of offshore companies working in the UK. By the way, offshore is not just Indian providers but also includes, for example, those from Eastern Europe.

I honestly believe that by letting this entry-level IT jobs situation continue – indeed it seems to be getting worse – we are ‘sleep walking into IT oblivion for the UK sector’. Huge numbers of offshore staff will soon have 10+ years IT experience and be able to take on the complex ‘high-skills’ roles that we had hoped would be forever ‘home grown’. Clearly a complete fallacy.

Both the Government and the Private sector could insist that it will only let contracts to non-UK HQed companies if they guarantee to undertake a certain percentage of their IT entry-level and graduate recruitment in the UK. We make such demands in other areas – so why not in entry-level IT jobs too?

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