Are Universities teaching the right digital skills?

Executives and hiring managers often complain that employees come out of University without having the right technology skill set. Why is this? Given the amount of time young people spend online, it would seem that graduates should have these skills.

The skills gap

Career Builder reported in 2014 that 81% of hiring managers said it was “somewhat difficult” to fill open positions due to lack of skills, and 61% said they had hired a person who was not qualified for the role.

Although skill gaps can be seen throughout all career stages it’s quite evident in entry-level positions. The digital skills training given in Universities doesn’t always match the skills needed to break into the real world of IT.

This is not something that can be ignored for long; a failure to address the shortfall in digital skills at an educational level is a threat to IT and the growing economy. It’s also a major block preventing graduates from starting their working careers.

Why is it so important within the technology sector?

According to Royal Geographical society 12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills and 5.8 million people have never used the internet. 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not yet been recruited. Another alarming fact is that 13% of computer graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving University.

It’s pretty evident that without the right digital skills - and, more importantly, the right ones required by businesses - it’s going to be challenging for graduates and employers alike.

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So, what digital skills should be taught by Universities?

In a recent interview with Professor Alan Woodward, from the department of Computing at the University of Surrey, commented:

“The evidence suggests that universities offering computer science degrees with modules that focus on hot topics (such as security and cloud computing), as well as those who offer degrees that specifically cater for those entering the software development industry, perform well where it comes to graduate employment. Add to this the experience students can gain from industry placement years and you will find a university where the vast majority of their computer science graduates are employed within six months or are furthering their knowledge with postgraduate study.”

Although this seems like a simple solution - offering Computer Science degrees with modules that focus on hot topics - with the technology industry constantly developing it is difficult for Universities to keep their syllabus up to date.

While Universities offer the initial skills and qualifications to give students a good stepping stone towards their career in IT, to improve the possibility of landing their dream job its worth looking into graduate schemes and training courses that teach these in-demand niche technologies.

If you want to find out more about the digital skills gap have a look at our Digital Skills Gap: 101 or what Techradar thinks about it. Or if you want to be trained in niche technologies after graduating from University why not have a look at the QA Graduate Programme.

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