Is postgraduate study now par for the course in IT?

July 10 2007

All evidence in the current IT job market points toward a employees market. It is increasingly hard to find qualified staff, as more and more position are made available. It is safe to say that if you are a developer you're on the pain free end of the stick.

There is one statistic that confuses me though. It seems an increasing number of developer resumes that pass through our HR department are from candidates with postgraduate study. Approximately 80% of the resumes are in this category. Within this number, perhaps a further 40-50% of candidates have both undergrad and post grad IT qualifications (be it Information Technology, Multimedia, Engineer, Computer Science). Although, almost all post graduate study is coursework. There may be a few reasons for these trends:

  1. People that have research post graduate awards tend to stay in research, going on to study Ph.d's or continue in other research related roles.
  2. People that have research post graduate awards tend to be "pre-employed", going on to a employment with a large company upon graduation. Thus they never enter into the job market.
  3. What's being taught in undergraduate courses is no longer specific enough for the majority of graduates to get work easily.
  4. Once graduating under grad, the person couldn't find work and instead chose to do post grad instead of sitting idle.

Years ago grade 10 was enough to get a job, that minimum requirement crept up to grade 12 and then under-grad. Now many graduates are of the belief that a post-grad award is needed.
While I do think a successful undergrad degree is necessary for a developer, my personal experience (yes, I too will soon join the ranks of those with post-grad degrees) says that post-grad coursework degrees are essentially a waste of time and money. On the job expereience is more beneficial.

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