BCS urges alternative routes to IT careers

A-levels are not a prerequisite to closing the IT skills gap – despite the increase in pass marks, the British Computer Society says.

BCS urges alternative routes to IT careers

The British Computer Society (BCS) has revealed a modest increase in the number of applications for computer science undergraduate courses this year.

The news comes as a bumper number of students gained A-C grades at A-level this week.

But the BCS highlighted the fact that, despite the modest increase in IT-related university applications, the UK is still expected to have an estimated 40% drop in graduates from IT-related courses in 2009 compared to its peak in 2004.

Dr Mike Rodd, BCS director of learned society and external relations said: “A-levels and A-level choices are often portrayed as the make-or-break time for teenagers in terms of their career choices.

“However, for those A-level students and other young people who do not have a clue what they want to do but who have an interest and ability with computers and computing, they will be surprised to discover the breadth and range of exciting roles that can make use of their talents.”

A-level students and other young people who have not set on a career direction are being urged to consider going into IT by the BCS.

The membership organisation for IT professionals also hopes to encourage young people – and young women in particular – who have not taken the traditional route of science-based A-levels and university, to investigate the variety of ways into the industry.

The BCS said there are a variety of routes into an IT career including part-time courses, work placements, or studying an IT-related subject at university.

It cited IBM consultant and chair of the BCS Young Professional Group (YPG) Jennifer Hewitt, aged 26, as a good example of somebody who took a non-traditional route into computing, and who is now enjoying a satisfying career with a blue-chip company.

She said: “When I left school I never imagined that I would be working in IT.”

After leaving school at 16, Hewitt became interested by computing while working at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Later she got a job with Business Link as an information analyst. Having taken several part-time study qualifications, Jennifer was accepted onto an IT-related course at the University of Gloucestershire. And after achieving a first class degree in Information Systems with Computing, she was recruited by IBM.

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