Survey Finds Skills Gap in College IT Grads

Susan Hall
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Top 10 In-Demand Tech Skills for 2011

A new survey has me wondering if employers who hire students straight out of college are ever really happy with their training? I'm guessing no. I think college and work can be totally different beasts.


Amid all the hand-wringing over the the state of science and technology education in this country, I've written that India's engineering colleges are churning out roughly 10 times the number that the United States does. But scholar-researcher Vivek Wadhwa says those Indian engineering graduates are so poorly trained, it takes them three or four years in the work force to reach the quality of American-educated engineers. But are American-trained engineers up to par?


A survey of members of the IBM user group Share and subscribers to Database Trends and Applications finds a disconnect between college graduates' skills and those companies seek. However, the report does not make clear whether these folks are talking about U.S. college graduates or those from other countries as well.


It does say the respondents come from a variety of industries, company sizes and types of infrastructure. Of them, 59 percent said they are hiring or plan to soon hire developers and programmers, 43 percent said so of systems programmers or systems analysts, 50 percent mentioned hiring database professionals, 36 percent said analysts and architects and 27 percent said application management talent. There's more detail in the survey about their hiring plans.


The survey results:

  • Four in 10 report that their IT hires are not sufficiently prepared to perform jobs within their companies, and there is even greater concern about their business skills.
  • Another 44 percent said there were at least notable gaps in skills.
  • Only 8 percent would rate these hires as "well-trained, ready to go."
  • Among the main skills these companies expect schools to teach: programming (77 percent), database (82 percent), analysis and architecture (76 percent), problem-solving (80 percent).
  • About half hire candidates straight out of college. They prefer a year of experience, though.
  • Most require a bachelor's degree, with computer science the preferred major.
  • Two out of three companies require candidates to have had an internship.


Beyond their technical skills, companies are looking for well-rounded, business-savvy workers as well-people who can see the "big picture," the survey report says.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 2, 2011 4:22 PM Thomas Wilson Thomas Wilson  says:

Thanks for reporting on the SHARE/Unisphere Research report on the IT skills gap. You raised a question about whether or not this was a North American study - it was. The respondents are all North American and in the full report (versus the publicly available Executive Summary) also asks the geograhical scope of their recruiting, which in most cases is regional in nature. If you want, I can send over the geo information. Thanks again, Tom Wilson, President, Unisphere Research.


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