In UK, Minority Grads the Key to High Computing Unemployment Rates

Despite the fact that science and technology companies are saying that they simply can’t fill all their open positions with qualified candidates, the latest data from the The Council of Professors and Heads of Computing shows that in UK, computing graduates have the highest unemployment numbers of all other majors, with 14% failing to find jobs after graduation.

The estimates for IT and the telecom industry growth are staggering. In the UK alone, they’re set to expand at 5 times the rate of the rest of the economy — and already companies in the two industries employ 20% of Britain’s workforce. According to a report by e-skills UK, the growth would be even more dramatic if only the companies had enough people to hire. The report concluded that 9 out of 10 companies were struggling to fill their open positions due to the lack of suitable candidates.

The growing demand from students around the world for UK qualifications is evidence that UK universities offer a high level of technical skills and knowledge. Recent international comparisons have ranked the teaching and research in UK universities among the best, and qualification comparison bodies such as NARIC rank UK qualifications in the highest quality band worldwide. Yet, many employers complain that graduates are not being taught the skills they want and many large employers admit to recruiting only from elite Russell Group universities.

The CPHC report that accompanies the data attempts to explain this apparent incongruity. Although the high numbers could in part be explained by the quality of the degree obtained or geographical location that puts some graduates outside the cities where most of the IT and telecom companies are located, the chief reason for high unemployment is the failure to find jobs by black and minority ethnic students.

According to Liz Bacon and Lachlan MacKinnon of The Guardian, even despite the fact that the demand for computing graduates is high, minority graduates continue to experience more than double the rate of unemployment than their white peers. More than 16% of Russell Group University minority graduates fail to find employment compared to the average of 7%.

It can and should be argued that any consideration of graduates’ employment needs to be contextualised against their contemporaries, rather than making unrealistic comparisons between institutions that draw from significantly different demographics. Having said that, there is considerable bias in the employment prospects for graduates of BME origin with similar or better qualifications than their white counterparts, which has even resulted in graduates changing or “anglicising” their names to obtain interviews.

09 19, 2013