My cousin has just finished his final year at university and, like 1000s of students across the country, he’s looking for a job. Finding the job market less than active, he’s been seeking advice from friends and family to see if they know of any opportunities. He has a degree in games programming and pretty exceptional IT skills. Working through his friends and family he eventually sent me a text, asking if I knew of any jobs. My advice was to look at IT support jobs – there seemed to be lots about and it would develop his IT skills and maybe his programming abilities as well. As evidence:
- Average wage of a Service Desk Analyst: £22,000
- There are indeed lots of support jobs available (1st line support is up 93 places from last year and support jobs capture a large proportion of the IT job market)
Despite these facts, my advice was met with a curt reply “Sounds a bit boring fixing people’s PCs. Thanks for looking tho”.
That was 4 weeks ago and he is still unemployed (my Aunt is facing up to the frightening revelation that he may be living at home for some time to come). Despite this, his resolve not to work in IT support has not diminished, and this is probably for the best. IT support is a very demanding role and if your heart’s not in it, it’s unlikely to go well. But it did get me to thinking – how many other recent graduates are the same as my cousin? Does the image of IT support as boring and menial extend beyond my cousin’s distorted view? And what, indeed, does this mean for our industry going forward – do we risk missing out on the best talent because it’s seen as a job beneath recent graduates?
So, my very limited research has led me to these possibilities:
- IT support has an image problem – it’s not sexy enough
- Graduates are too picky
- Graduates don’t understand what IT support actually involves
- Graduates feel that IT support is beneath them and their capabilities
- No understanding of the career progression paths
- Appears to be no development or training
- The wages offered are too low
- Companies are looking for industry experience
- None of the above
Everyone will have their own thoughts on whether the IT support industry is attracting the best talent. I can say that from my own experience, most companies seem to be recruiting excellent people – they have focused on people with great customer skills with the expectation that technical skills can be taught. This extends to people with degrees and without (although I’m seeing an increasing number of graduates in service desk roles and competition can be fierce).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – are we attracting great people into our industry? And if not, are there any stand out reasons why?