by Rod Flavell, CEO FDM Group

CIOs should go back to school

Jan 17, 2011

It is apparent that companies are increasingly favouring more experienced jobseekers when it comes to entry-level roles, with new graduates being overlooked despite the fact technology graduate vacancies in the UK have increased by almost 80 per cent.

This is a shame, and something CIOs will need to take action over, if they aren’tfinding the appropriate skills they require from new joiners, rather than overlooking the graduate skills gap altogether.

In order to do this, CIOs need to build relationships with academic organizations, which are some see as responsible for misidentifying the requirements and demands of employers.

Academic courses can find themselves out of the loop with the specific technologies used amongst the blue chips, and out of touch with the developing technologies and trends in the industry.

From a course perspective, it is hard to simplify IT as a qualification or degree and when that is done the course can lose its edge. Learning how to use Microsoft Office tools and how computers are used within a business is superficial and cannot support the complexities of modern computer usage in the workforce.

As a result, these courses fail to provide realistic opportunities for entry-level graduates. This is a call for courses to be overhauled to make them more relevant to students. CIOs need to be more proactive and look into making colleges and universities operating these courses more aware of the specific requirements needed to satisfy the demands of the industry they are working in.

CIOs should see the entire collaboration as a platform to define relevant courses and programmes for graduates. This is where industry collaborations between business and academic organisations can provide more pertinent and work-ready programmes, offering direct involvement and insight in the industry.

This also gives CIOs a direct link into the curriculum being taught and how to tailor the course to suit their specific needs and requirements, which in turn benefits the graduate.

Graduate employers such as ourselves are beginning to address this issue by collaborating with academic organisations, and by implementing new graduate and postgraduate programmes to specifically define the topics and skills being taught.

This is something CIOs can look at doing more of, as this way they can tailor the training to specifically suit their own requirements and IT service demands.

Take Cobol for example, this old programming language used in many of the banks is still in great demand but with a decreasing supply of consultants trained in this particular technology. Whereas universities may dismiss the discipline as a dying technology, CIOs realise there is a growing demand for consultants to be trained in it, and this is something CIOs and companies can help make academia aware of.

Creating new programmes such as FDM’s fully funded MSc in partnership with the University of Brighton, and HP’s computing degree with the University of the West of England, is mutually beneficial to all parties involved and provides a higher quality of service and support.

Businesses can specifically tailor the training to suit the demands of the industry, attaining the best graduates straight out of university to service its clients.

In turn, both academia and the student gain an in-depth understanding and insight into the commercial world and ultimately this enables CIO’s to fulfill the potential of the entry-level roles within their company.

Rod Flavell is the founder and Chief Executive Officer at FDM Group