June 30, 2008, 1:49 PM — CRAC, the Career Development Organisation, an independent, charitable organization dedicated to career development, commissioned the study of almost 2000 undergraduates.
The perception of IT among students and young workers is important when half of IT employers are failing to fill their vacancies and educators are worried about falling numbers studying computing.
"Over 60% of non-computing students cited boring work as the main reason they would not join the sector," said CRAC Development Director Robin Mellors-Bourne.
"Employers should be able to counter that kind of perception. We found that very few of the students hold negative perceptions about the IT profession or its people."
The research also revealed significant differences in motivation for the career choices made by male and female students and the sorts of jobs that would attract them. While female computing students were every bit as keen as their male counterparts to work in the sector, this was not the case for students in other disciplines.
"The survey suggests that many women will be attracted by the impact that IT projects have in other sectors and areas of life, while the men tend to like the technical projects," says Mellors-Bourne.
Less than 10% of respondents felt that they had been effectively told of the benefits of studying IT at university.
"We need to encourage more students to study computer science and computer related studies at universities in order to ensure that the IT industry can meet the demand for workers in the future," said Mike Rodd, director of BCS Learned Society.
Rodd, who is working on an outreach campaign to schools, said that taking IT at A-level has a major impact on whether a student eventually takes up an IT career, regardless of their degree.
The research also suggested that work experience was the strongest influence on career choice for undergraduates, and that existing schemes are very successful in portraying work in IT in a good light.
"If the UK IT sector wants to remain competitive it needs to harness the best talent. It is already doing a lot right but we have identified a few key areas in which some decisive change could be really effective," said Mellors-Bourne.