IT graduates are leading the way in employability, pay and career opportunities despite a downturn in the industry, according to a new study by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Engineering Council.
IT, electronics and communications (ITEC) graduates now have high employment and pay levels and the best career opportunities compared with other graduates.
The average wage for computer scientists after six month is £17,000, effectively £2,000 more than the cross-discipline average salary, rising to £25,000 three years after graduation, compared with £20,000 for all other graduates.
Careers in IT are also less likely to pay women lower salaries on the ground of gender. After six months, male computer scientists earned only one per cent more than female graduates, compared with a difference of three per cent among all graduates.
Stephen Timms, minister for ecommerce at the DTI, explained that the survey showed that ITEC graduates could look forward to a career with higher rewards and greater opportunities.
"It is vital that we continue to set and achieve high standards for graduates in ITEC careers. They hold the key skills in developing a strong knowledge-based economy," he said.
But the findings sit uncomfortably with employers' concerns about ongoing skills shortages and the quality of graduates entering the industry.
Anne Cantelo, project director at Eskills UK, maintained that, although larger companies had scaled down their IT recruitment, small and medium sized employers were still struggling to find IT staff with the skills they need.
"One of the main problems is that women just aren't applying for these jobs. Many received no applications from women at all. There's also a retention issue. Graduates don't see the IT industry as having a work/life balance," she said.
The survey also seems to suggest higher levels of job satisfaction among ITEC graduates. The vast majority, 84 per cent, planned to stay in their chosen careers, compared to 79 per cent of other graduates.
The survey interviewed 2,500 graduates over six months and 1,000 graduates after three years.
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