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Young People See Good Prospects In IT

IT is beginning to be accepted as a “career of choice” with good prospects by young people but the older generation is proving harder to convince

Young people with IT qualifications feel more confident about their job prospects than those without, according to a survey conducted by the British Computer Society, released this week.

Around 53 percent of young people with an IT qualification said they were “confident’ about their chances of getting a job despite the recession, and around 57 percent of 16 to 30 year-olds said that it would be harder to get work without IT skills, according to the survey.

“Young people realise even basic IT skills are now essential to their long term employment prospects. They recognise that IT is a dynamic, global profession that offers a rewarding career equal to other traditional professions,” said Jennifer Hewitt, from BCS’s Young Professionals Group.

But while the BCS survey may be upbeat, the reality for many IT professionals in the UK is far from certain. BT recently axed 15,000 jobs and announced plans to cut a further 15,000 positions this year. According to a study released by skills body e-skills UK late in February, demand for IT staff in the UK dropped by 10 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared to an overall average fall in demand across all other job sectors of just 5 percent.

But there are some upsides. Investing in new digital infrastructure such as broadband and smart grid technology could help generate up to 700,000 new jobs in the UK according to the London School of Economics.

The BCS also said that its survey points to a trend of IT becoming a more respected and acceptable profession amongst young people – on a par with accounting or law.

“The research by BCS suggests young people’s attitudes to IT as a career are changing. The change comes after two decades of exposure to the impact of IT on every aspect of people’s personal and professional lives. IT is beginning to be seen as a ‘career of choice’ alongside traditional middle-class professions,” the BCS said in a statement.

However it seems that the older generation may still have some preconceptions about IT being not being a proper profession. Around 68 percent of the under 30s surveyed said that that parents need to recognise IT as a profession.

“We need to get more children and young people interested in IT as a subject. That means getting parents to recognise that IT and computer science are fundamental to society and therefore represent an excellent career choice too,” said Hewitt.

According to the BCS, over 1.5m people have chosen European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) to learn user skills and 380,000 Information Systems Examination Board (ISEB) exams have been taken in the last ten years.