Focus on computing

A new generation of students can look forward to good wages and excellent job prospects

Computing is for geeks, right? Wrong! There are over nine million people employed across Western Europe as IT specialists, earning handsome financial rewards for making sense of computers that mere mortals can’t make head nor tail of. In today’s technological workplace, not only will everyone have to have some form of basic understanding of computer use, but most organisations have in-house technicians to keep the wheels of modern business turning.

Applications to IT courses at universities and colleges are soaring as the new generation of students eye the chance of higher than average wages, as well as excellent employment prospects. And these prospects are improving over time. The research group IDC expects a shortfall of 1.6 million computer specialists across Europe within three years.

And with more and more universities and colleges offering language courses as part of a completely unrelated degree – such as computing – you have the chance to become involved in a well-paying career that could also give you the chance to get work abroad.

Douglas Kemp, a graduate of Leeds Metropolitan University’s computer degree course, says: “Computing at university is more accessible than a pure science such as chemistry or physics; there is a wider choice of courses on offer and entry requirements are more flexible.

“The subject does need commitment to get your head round it. There is a heavy workload of timetabled hours with sessions in the laboratory. But if you stick with it, there are good rewards at the end of it.”

Computing graduates are by no means restricted to a computing career, though. Most firms hire graduates with computing degrees either for a central IT department or as general management trainees. There is also the option of working for a software company or joining consultancy firms such as Logica or Andersen Consulting.

And for something really cool, you could end up in the entertainment industry, working in computer games, film or graphics production.

Entry requirements vary from institution to institution and depend on the content of the course. As a general rule of thumb, courses described as “computer science” or “computing” will be the most technical types; and will normally require at least a good GCSE grade in maths to show that you have some aptitude for the logical theory behind computers and programming. Courses such as “information systems” or “business systems” will be more accessible for those with pure arts A-levels.

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