Recession Could Create Generation Of Reluctant IT Staff

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The IT industry could be facing a wave of reluctant workers seeking job security but not in love with technology

A fascination with the world changing possibilities of technology should be the main motivator for students looking towards careers in IT but the recession may be the reality of why some teenagers are considering tech

According to a survey released this week, students are naturally concerned about their job prospects and appear to be reacting by considering courses and careers which they perceive as more likely to lead to employment, and these include IT and engineering.

The RealTime Generation Survey, backed by IT company Logicalis, reveals that 80 percent of teenagers questioned were concerned that they might not be able to afford higher education at all because of the recession and 45 percent said they were worried about debt if they managed to secure a place.

Around 37 percent of the teenage boys, aged between 13 and 17, said they would consider a future in science, IT or engineering – ahead of other categories such as media, humanities and arts. However only 17 percent of girls said they would consider technical subjects, with arts emerging as the lead choice for 25 percent of teenage girls. But despite the gender differences around IT and science, it still emerged as the lead choice with 33 percent when students of both sexes were asked what profession has the best career prospects.

“The survey results suggest that this generation is planning ahead and offsetting these fears by choosing traditional academic subjects such as science, IT and engineering, which they associate with better career prospects,” said Chris Gabriel, marketing and solutions director at Logicalis UK. “This is in stark contrast to recent years, where headlines have highlighted the popularity of ‘softer’ subjects. Whether this is a conscious or subconscious reaction to the recession or other external pressures, British plc should be reassured that our knowledge economy is safe for a few more years.”

But despite the perception that technical jobs offer a safer career choice, numerous IT companies have announced large staff cuts amid the recession. Last month, BT announced that it had decided to suspend its graduate scheme for 2010. “In light of the current economic environment and headcount pressures, BT has taken the decision to cease graduate recruitment activity and are no longer running a graduate recruitment programme,” a company spokesperson told the BBC.

In May, BT announced that it planned to lay off 15,000 staff after it reported an annual loss of £134m. The company has already shed around 15,000 jobs this year which was about 5000 more than had been expected by industry watchers.

Unions also criticised Fujitsu UK last month for announcing plans to cut around 1200 jobs in its services arm claiming that the moves are unnecessary given the company’s relatively healthy profits.