Thousands of IT graduates will be unable to find related work this year as a boom in student numbers and a downturn in demand for recruitment hits university leavers.
The number of IT vacancies for graduates has slumped in the last year and the outlook for next year is gloomy, according to the latest GTI Graduate Trends Survey.
On top of this, candidates with IT degrees are increasingly losing out to non-technical graduates, despite a huge rise in the number of higher education IT courses.
This has prompted concerns that higher education is still failing to meet the demands of industry.
After two years of increases the total number of vacancies advertised by employers in the survey declined sharply, from around 8,446 last year to fewer than 4,544 this year.
The average number of vacancies advertised by the employers surveyed also fell, from 165 last year to 142 in 2002.
Chris Phillips, publishing director at careers guides publisher GTI, warned that a generation of IT students has been betrayed by factors outside their control.
"They were recruited on the belief that an IT degree was a passport to a job at a time when skills shortages were rife. It's an interesting cautionary note to anyone about what sort of degree they study," Phillips said.
Phillips said IT graduates lose out to others for IT-related jobs because IT courses are perceived to lack so-called 'softer' skills.
"It's not seen to be a part of most computer science courses to turn out well-rounded people," he said.
Despite the downturn, starting salaries in IT are on the up, paying on average £24,764, compared with £22,716 last year.
And while half of employers offer packages in the £21,000 to £25,000 range, 16 per cent of respondents, predominantly those in the banking sector, paid over £30,000 for graduate IT positions.
Phillips also warned that the glut of candidates on the market did not necessarily present the opportunities employers were hoping for.
"It doesn't mean you'll find more good people for the vacancies you have," he said.
The vast majority of recruiters - 83 per cent and rising - now use online applications to source new IT recruits. These meet the needs of employers better than emailed applications, which don't allow for easy comparisons.
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