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IT Graduates Not Happy With Courses

January 11th, 2006 Leave a comment Go to comments

Apparently 46% (in this survey, at least) of UK IT Graduates are not happy with their courses saying that they failed to prepare them for working in “the real world”.

I would sit myself firmly in the 54% of the other Graduates that are happy with what I did at University. I think that may be the 46% were not aware of what they have been taught:Graduates were disappointed they were not taught Java and .NET – despite demand for them in the commercial sector.This makes me think that they have made an oversight. I was taught several languages at University, but only briefly touched on Java, and had no (at University, at least) experience of working with Microsoft .Net. The fact that both of these products (along with other, important, commercial products such as Oracle) are now available as a free download which these graduates could go to learn on their own, is not stated.

Even though I wasn’t taught them fully, I feel that I would not have a problem with switching to these languages. Why? Because I was taught how to program, not how to program in X, Y, or Z languages. The skills are very transferable, if you put your mind to it (incidentally, I am not stating that all programming languages are the same – they are not, but many ideas and concepts do, readily, transfer).

Let me put this into the context of an analogy:

Imagine that, at University, you were taught to drive a car. You were taught what all the pedals were for, how to steer, when to change gear, how to drive in traffic, the whole lot; except the only car the University had available for you to drive and to practice in was, for example, a Honda, and sometimes there was a Vauxhall on offer if you took the right course in your third year.

You then graduate from University, and start looking for a job, advertising yourself as a “driver”, as there is little need for a specific “Honda Only driver (with some experience of Vauxhalls)”.

When you get to your job, you are asked to drive a Ford.

When you immediately get into the car, most things are the same, and you can more-or-less start driving straight away. OK, every now and again, you forget where the windscreen washer is, or it takes you a bit of time to get used to the gear box, but after a while you are driving well. Could you then say that you felt disappointed because your University did not teach you to drive a Ford? Most things are the same, except for a few little levers and things, but the principles are all exactly the same.

University is not about learning specifics – it is about learning principles. The problem with principles though, is that you can’t use “principles”, you have to use an implementation of those principles, which may have included, changed or excluded those principles at will.

Ignoring those principles, and only absorbing implementation specifics is a unwise thing to do.

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  1. Rich
    January 13th, 2006 at 23:34 | #1

    I’ve been saying this for years… but try telling that to the average fucking idiot at a University.

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