Do we have too many IT graduates?

HUMAN RESOURCES | Universities are churning out masses of computer graduates, but finding a good programmer is still a pain. Ahmad Humeid looks for the source of the problem.

As the owner of a design/technology business, it is me who receives job application in the company. For the past few months I’ve been noticing a dramatic increase in IT graduates applying for jobs. Everyday, I receive applications by email from anywhere between 1 and 6 people, mostly computer graduates.

Opening the resumés of these young people has become a depressing routine for me. Most of the resumés don’t have a covering letter and they almost all look and read the same. It’s as if these graduates have downloaded some resume template from somewhere and then just changed the name on it.

The sad truth is that many of our young graduates indeed copy and paste their resumes from colleagues or get them prepared in stationary/book shops around their universities. Some of them mention that they have taken courses at this or that training center, but sometimes it looks to me that all of them are taking the same courses.

I don’t want to even talk about the bad English in most of these resumes, or the email subject line: “looking for a ‘jop’”.

Recently I was talking to an executive from a successful Jordanian IT company that employs over 100 people about the apparent increase in IT graduates looking for jobs. The executive confirmed my suspicions: we seem to have a glut in IT graduates. But what really rang my alarm bell is that this executive added that the vast majority of people are “unemployable in their current shape”. Companies have to put new hires on lengthy in-house training courses before they can start producing anything useful.

I can confirm, from personal experience in the market, that despite the vast supply of graduates, finding a good programmer in Amman is a real challenge. Looking for a brilliant programmer is like finding a needle in a haystack.

What’s going on? Here we are, five years into the launch of Jordan’s IT initiative with a really serious human resource dilemma on our hands. We got people excited about Jordan’s IT future a few years ago and parent started encouraging their kids to go for an IT career. Now the time has come when these people are starting to graduate. Are they well trained? Do we have the jobs for them?

The easiest thing for the private sector is to start blaming the universities and colleges. But that’s not the only source of the problem. I say blame our culture of uniformity and the lack of a spirit of initiative taking that is producing timid, narrow sighted students and graduates.

If you are an IT student (or you have a son, daughter or relative who is) don’t blame your university. The internet is wide open in front of you. Bookstores have an excellent selection of IT books. Teach yourself to learn on your own. Don’t go blindly to those ‘ASP.NET’ or ‘Visual Basic’ or ‘C++’ courses, just because everybody is doing that. And please don’t think that mentioning Microsoft Office in your CV will get you a job.

Create your own projects, even if your teacher doesn’t ask you. Design and program your own web site. Become an expert in something.

Today’s Jordanian student can tap into the latest thinking and discussions coming out of Silicon Valley itself. All that our students need to become better IT people is the willingness to learn (now here’s a challenge!). In fact, there are people who don’t even have a degree but who already have cool IT jobs because they have a special skill or interest.

Waiting for our educational institutions to catch up with the global IT market is fruitless. If our IT students don’t start teaching themselves real skills, we’ll see many IT graduates taking on Taxi driving soon.


20 Responses to “Do we have too many IT graduates?”

  1. Ammar Ibrahim Says:

    Thanks for this entry, It kinda sums up the situation.

  2. سلطانة الفهد Says:

    السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته … وبعد:

    أخي الكريم/أختي الكريمة يقوم هذا الاستبيان على دراسة مدى (تأثير وأهمية المحتوى التقني للمدونات العربية في جسر الفجوة التقنية). ومن المعلوم في الوقت الحالي أن دراسة المدونات و تحليلها أصبحت موضوعا مهما في المجال العلمي، فهناك العديد من الدراسات الأجنبية في هذا الجانب. ورغبة منا في إثراء الدراسات العربية المتخصصة في مجال الحاسب و الإنترنت وذلك بعمل دراسات مشابهة ولكن فيما يخص الجانب العربي، لذا نأمل منكم تعبئة الاستبيان المرفق وإرساله لنا بأسرع وقت ممكن، كما نأمل منكم دعمنا بالإشارة لهذا الموضوع ووضع رابط للاستبيان في مدونتكم.

    فالرجاء مراسلتي على الايميل ليتم ارسال استبانة البحث لايميلكم
    شاكرة ومقدرة حسن تعاونكم
    سلطانة الفهد

  3. Roba Says:

    This is one of the really depressing points that unfortunately do not only affect the IT sector but Jordan as whole. One of the biggest problems we have is that children are taught that learning is an automated task, and not something that needs to be done with passion. They go into college and study something they don’t know anything about because they want to avoid the “Yee, ibnek 3am bodros tarbeyeh riyadeyeh? Leish ma 3emel mnee7 bil tawjihi? Ma bte2daro itda’7lo mowazi?” It’s as if the concept of doing something out of passion and not for the society is almost unheard of!

    My cousin is a fresh IT grad. I can swear to you that my computer skills are much better than hers. These students just go through college blindly grabbing marks with our “basem” system.

    As for putting the blame on universities, although it is partially the universities fault, I completely agree with you on how the students responsibility when it comes to looking for knowledge is greater than the universitys. I was quite shocked to see that even people studying Fine Arts are seriously expecting to be spoon fed. I mean, you’d think that anyone who gets into painting gets into it because he loves to paint!

  4. Jad Says:

    Those students trying to catch up with our local IT market, Which is unfortenatly Microsoft based market , and in my opinion Self motivation wont work in our market.

    I think work place is not just a place to work, but to learn, take and give back, that how I see life cycle should be.

  5. A Mom in Amman Says:

    I am encouraged to see that someone who has a voice in Jordan’s IT community has raised the idea that IT training is not the pancea for Jordan’s economic and educational woes that is has been made out to be by the schools and the media.

    As an educator I have long been suspicious of the push for IT training in the schools over and above other much needed educational reforms. The over emphasis on IT literacy seems to be producing, as you alluded to, a “cut and paste” mentality. I’ve seen reports and presentations that are slick and flashy at first glance, but content and thoughtful dialogue are lacking or absent.

    This learning malaise begins much earlier than the university years; my third grader spent nearly two hours of screen time on an inane cut and past assignment creating a travel brochure. Children spend less and less time on truly educational activites and more and more time in a virtual world.

    I realize that it would be a sweeping generalization to say that all IT training is is unnecessary or unbeneficial but I think what we really need to be striving for is the cultivation of educated students, not merely trained students. I’ve read of more than one IT executive who prefers to hire philosophy, language, or physics graduates as they are the ones, they feel, who have learned how to think. After they get a worker who can think, the training part is easy.

    Thanks for the great article. I hope you do more writing on this subject.

  6. nasimjo Says:

    Yes We Do, With Bad Qualities even!

    ill be giving my point of view from several snapshots!

    1- it’s indeed Students Fault before being Uni’s, along my past 3 years at Uni I’ve mentioned that this willingness to learn & innovate is not available in most of the students spirits, they what everything with the spoon as Roba says (Yeslam temmek), Despite the fact that all the my instructors mentioned that Uni studying in this field is just the step that u can depend on, & That Uni provides “science & concepts” while u have full freedom to apply, innovate & build the “wall” in the way u would like it to be as u have got the know-how.

    2- it’s always that geeks in IT are those “Basem” community, (thanx again roba), the bad thing is that they are purely basem & have nothing to do with the whole (6abkha!).. then, ranking 1st places, they get scholarships from the uni & get the masters & start teaching at the uni with 100% WRONG concepts, generating Bad level students (U just cannot imagine the situation of 1st/2nd year IT students in Unis around Jordan nowadays!)

    3-Jordan’s IT Market= Databases+ Microsoft! Conclusion, imitation, no innovation! not only in Jordan but most Arab IT companies
    the companies are going stupidly among this way & the students are even more stupid paying 100s, but even 1000s of JDs on Microsoft training courses & certificates at different centers that are valid for 2 years 2 YEARS & Ur out of the company baby find ur self another job!! That is totally irrational & unfair. & just stupid!

    4-this is to Roba, your cousin’s situation is just normal! among females studying IT (with all the respect to ur cousin & women in general who proved to be good for everything, but not Jordanian women in the IT field), maybe im generalizing but this is the fact, they are just going for the basem & steeling those grades from us!
    no wonder u know more than her, just ask her about the anatomy structure in which Blogging goes on (since every1 is claiming geekity in Web)?!

    5-agreeing with Jad that the work place is not just a place to work, but to learn, take and give back.
    Companies just everything from us with the bowl as we got it with the spoon earlier in a training center or at the uni.
    Just look around the companies’ advs in the newspapers (.NET programmer with 5 years experience! “Hello … .NET appeared formally in 2003! & this adv stands to year 2004!”),(Programmer with I dunno how many skills & languages so that u’ll program in VB6 & MS Access “WHAT THE HECK!”),(web developer with PHP & MS Access “DUAH!!” .... XHTML is a plus “Oops!”),(VB 6 Project manager with at least 10 years experience, MS Access & excel are a must “this adv was by Irbid Municipality’s IT dep!”) ....
    & Much more of those stupid advs all over around!! & Ur telling me we are the problem! We are just part of the whole problem! but not THE problem.

    while in comparison with a European IT company seeking (& Choosing to seek) Jordanian ITers, the adv reads just as follows (Fresh IT graduates knowing Data structures, Object Oriented Methodology & concepts, Object Oriented Development …willing to learn & innovate… No experience required “preferably”) ... what a difference!

    6- Finally, Students again just dont know what their choosing at uni (yeslam temmek again Roba) for example I decided on IT & software engineering particularly knowing what am I going for. despite I had all kinds of Electrical,Computer,Industrial… etc Engineering Majors available for me.
    That’s when every1 was making fun of my major (SW Engineering but Ur not an Engineer but an ITer, how come, 6aieb u wont have a NAQABE now .. taieb …etc from this “empty” speech) hell with it! I wanted this, I had the tendency to go for this field (despite I never had a computer before being at Uni) ... its just that God made me for this, & Im thanking him each & every moment for it ,,, I just love it others are getting higher marks & “bebsumo” more & keep complaining all the time, but im the 1 lovin it ,, not them!

  7. Nada Abandah, PMP Says:

    Hello,

    Last semester, I taught at the Jordan University a course to 3rd, 4th year Computer Engineers on the basics of Software Engineering (Requirements gathering, user interface prototyping, testing, managing projects…). The results: Shameful!

    Instructors: Dinosaurs who believe that COBOL and FORTRAN are a shame to waste, curricula and approved text boxes go back to the early days of the internet age, facilities & infrastructure (if present and available) slow, full of visors, and utilized for chatting and network games.

    But the tragedy lays with the Students… lazy, full of themselves, just want to be called Muhandis Folan, and get a salary of 500 when they graduate.

    Out of the 85 students, 17 don’t have emails they check on weekly basis (not even asking for daily basis), over 30 don’t know how to use Google, majority don’t even know that you can find all sorts of information – free – courses, and material to self-learn database, programming, networking, on the internet. Majority have not even tried.

    All of that is acceptable, but when a Computer Engineer in collage is asked what does a CPU refers to (to help them pass the course) and only 54/83 get the answer correctly, it’s a miracle that we get graduates who know how to turn off the PC Ahmad, let alone program well!

    Regards

  8. Julia Nuqul Says:

    Thank you for this article. I am a western trained educator working on my masters in effective teaching and developing life time learners. I will use this article in my staff training and high school classes to help them understand the reason we are laboring away at trying to develop independent thought, creative work habits and the ability for creating original quality products.
    The needs of the modern labor force are changing dramatically. I just hope that the educational systems in Jordan can be humble enough to learn and change the way school is conducted. Has any learning institution out there ever heard of the Habits of Mind?

  9. nasimjo Says:

    Dr Nada ….
    respect,,
    we need you at HU ;)

  10. jared l. Says:

    Hello there! Came across this web site while I was searching for some telecommunications info in Middle East. Anyway, the issues about too many IT graduates turning out without proper skills and knowledge also happens here in Malaysia…

  11. Ryan Says:

    Thank you for this article. I’m a computer science student living in Southern California, but the points that you brought up still apply. You mentioned that IT students should design/program their own websites. Since you are someone who reviews resumes what value would you place on these types of projects?

    At times I feel somewhat frustrated when reading through job descriptions because it seems that the employers require a lot of experience even for entry-level positions. However, I work on a lot of personal development projects and would like to know if you think it is important to list this type of development on a resume.

    Thanks again for the article.

  12. Basel Says:

    Well i have been through the same on an international scale , however, it seems that not only jordan has this problem … The really frustrating thing about some of those you interview is having them to THINK! some have the knowledge , are hard working but seem to lack the LOGIC …. a thing, when working on fast track projects, you don’t have the time to teach!

  13. Ahmed Says:

    I have taken the course Ms. Nada has gave in the University of Jordan, personally I have learned a lot from her. I beleive that we need a lot of her in our universities because we lack the smell of professionalism in our universities and we need some people from the industrail field to give us this experience. the thing is, we cant get any reserach oppurtunities in the universities of jordan and also we dont have any motiviations from the industral field such as Ms Nada. so how do you expect the new engineers ?! of course as Ms Nada said.

    Anyway, it is not just our false.

  14. M.Sabri Says:

    Hi All:
    I want to comment on Ms Nada abandah statement.
    God’s will didnt give me the chance to take the Software Engineering course with a special instructor like Ms nada, my bad luck forced me to take the same course with some Dr worse than Ms nada. I do believe computer engineering students in unversity of jordan are cursed as long as they take this course with such instructors. Ms nada spoke about the tragedy that lays with the students (the lazy students dump etc…..) i think the tragedy lays with our instructors who are not willing & never did to improve their students. Our instructors for sorry look to the rotten surface of higher education in jordan & ignore the nice core the nice face which is students. Yes i do admit there is shortage of resources & lack of self confidence between our students but who is responsible to over come these problem? Where is the positive role you played Ms Nada? How did you employ your experience to improve your students experience? what did you do to communicate with your students in oreder to put them back on the right track?

    Higher education is not only giving a lecture, building naughty picture about some students who are really the ellite in jordan & its not a body building show. Higher education is communication, building new future through these young people, Training young engineers to be in leadership posistions & the most important is enforcing the concept of self confidence in the new generation’s spirit. I can see after 5 years that instructors compete in completly destructing students reasoning this by lack of resources & students of bad quality. but i reason this in the following.

    1. Failure in transfering the western model of higher education which influenced our instructors to our jordanian universities,so in the end we couldnt adapt the new model & we couldnt go back to our arabic model.I do think this is the responsibility of our beloved instructors.

    2. Failure in planning for better educational process & i think this is the responsibilty of ministry of higher education.

    3. Spoiled idealogy that our instrutors follow in treating students, I mean that instructors hang their failure on the students shoulders & by the way i dont mean by failure (educational failure) i mean failure in communicating with students.

    4.The basic instinct that controls instructors and orders them to show their power to poor students.

    there is a lot to say here but in the end i want to say to Ms nada, What a shame to stab students & your university in the back, instead you have to look to the future & invest your Great capabilities in motivating your children, relatives & students in oder to build brighter Era.

    God bless Jordan

  15. walid Says:

    JARBOUI walid
    Adress :48,rue 6256 OMRANE SUPERIEUR TUNIS
    Phone number : +21698594818
    Email :

    Date of birth : 07/08/1981 Tunis
    Fields of skills[technical skills]
    Operating systems : Unix, Linux, Windows (XP, 2000, NT, 9x)
    Controlled Programming languages : C/C++, VB.
    Web Programming languages : PHP, ASP, JavaScript, VB Script
    Basic system of data: ACCESS, MYSQL, ORACLE.
    Tools : Dreamweaver, EasyPHP,
    [Skills conceptual informations]
    Rational Rose (UML)
    Power AMC Designer (Merise)
    [Languages]
    Arabic (mother tongue)
    Frensh (Excellent)
    English (good)
    Italian (concept)
    Academic training course01/2006–06/2006PFE (fine project of study )
    subject:(Study and installation of a platform for identification of the citizens)ATI, Tunis
    07/2005 –08/2005Stage au TUNISIE TELECOMTunisie Telecom, Tunis
    Formation2004 Р2006Control in Data processingFST(facult̩ des sciences Tunis), Tunis
    2000 Р2004University diploma of first cycle speciality: Data-processing_ mathematicsFST(facult̩ des sciences Tunis), Tunis
    June 2000Baccalaureat Mathematics mention: rather wellLycée pilote, Tunis
    Interest Centers Reading and documentation
     New technology
    Assets Young person, ambitious, serious when it is needed, reasonable, obliging. I like work well done, the collaboration and team spirit.

  16. amira Says:

    amira fekih
    Phone number : +21622836654
    Email :

    Date of birth : 02/12/1982 Tunis
    Fields of skills[technical skills]
    Operating systems : Unix, Linux, Windows (XP, 2000, NT, 9x)
    Controlled Programming languages : C/C++, VB.
    Web Programming languages : PHP, ASP, JavaScript, VB Script
    Basic system of data: ACCESS, MYSQL, ORACLE.
    Tools : Dreamweaver, EasyPHP,
    [Skills conceptual informations]
    Rational Rose (UML)
    Power AMC Designer (Merise)
    [Languages]
    Arabic (mother tongue)
    Frensh (Excellent)
    English (good)
    Italian (concept)
    Academic training course01/2006–06/2006PFE (fine project of study )
    subject:(Study and installation of a platform for identification of the citizens)ATI, Tunis
    07/2005 –08/2005Stage au TUNISIE TELECOMTunisie Telecom, Tunis
    Formation2004 Р2006Control in Data processingFST(facult̩ des sciences Tunis), Tunis
    2001 Р2004University diploma of first cycle speciality: Data-processing_ mathematicsFST(facult̩ des sciences Tunis), Tunis
    June 2001Baccalaureat Mathematics mention: rather wellLycée pilote, Tunis
    Interest Centers Reading and documentation
     New technology
    Assets Young person, ambitious, serious when it is needed, reasonable, obliging. I like work well done, the collaboration and team spirit.

  17. Ibrhim Najar Says:

    Hello,

    I would like to comment on what Nada Abandah said. I was one of her students.

    Computer Engineering students in the University of Jordan are more Hardware oriented. They can tell you about the cashe memory, CPU, RAM, Transistor, Bus, Diode, Voltage, systems control… etc.

    We cant really talk about software because we dont have much courses about it. We take some programming courses in IT faculty, but they concentrate on the very very basic programming structures in all courses (IF, FOR, Array .. etc). So we dont learn how to think, or how to create algorithms in programming. So if you find a computer engineer that can really do well in programming, you have to know that is self-learning for sure.

    {edited}

    On another hand, I would agree with Nada about the quality of the majority of students in the university. The students are really careless, the never do the job right, and they always prefer to copy the homework or whatsoever from someone else.

    One last thing, if you take some PhD teacher’s opinion about the computer engineering students in the university of Jordan, u’ll know what we really are. I dont think its just luck that makes 90% of the PhD carriers say the Computer Engineering students are the best among I.T students and other engineers in the faculty.

  18. Dela Vega Says:

    I just want to comment on what miss nada said; yes, this phenomenon does exist at the University of Jordan, and definitely does exist at the Computer Engineering Department, I know this because Computer Engineering was my major, and a shame it was that at the time when miss nada taught at the Computer Engineering Department, we had a huge lack of human resource ( professors that taught ). I think at the time, the Computer Engineering department staff had 5 members including miss nada abandah and her brother Assistant Professor geith abandah. anyway, I think If miss nada tried to make a difference on the so called “Dinosaur” issue , she could have, because she had almost 50% of the votes in our department, but instead she chooses to take a back seat and do nothing but yap. Guys, the dinosaur issue is growing old, I heard it god knows how many times, but it seems that people like having it arround to keep blabbing about something instead of stepping up, and doing the right thing.

  19. Nada Abandah Says:

    Thank you all for the passion in which you have wrote, I wish I’ve seen this passion back then.
    Someone just sent in this link, so I just saw the replies, I just would like to point out a few notes: – What I wrote in her, is what I saw. I agree with Ibrahim (who is a great student btw) that I’m not a PhD, and that I don’t know what the PhD holders really think or say about the Electrical Engineers, but I also know that PhDs belong in the Universities, not in the real market. – Stabbing students, controlling the poor students and hanging instructors’ failure on their shoulders… What is this? I said what I saw,,, so relax. – What have I done to change the situation, I offered my help to the students… while some took advantage of that (I found internship opportunities for 5, and worked with 4 on a nice freelance project, and gave career advise for most of the female students), others chose to slander, hack my site, and write in blogs 

    Cheers.

  20. Bahder Says:

    Al Salamu Alikum,

    I found this room by google, and I need your help.

    Real state, Tourism, Industry, and Business all are Booming in our region, starting from UAE, Qatar, Saudi, ………….., and Jordan.

    This booming is powered be technology and especially networking technology.
    Today there is a shortage in the region for advanced networking technology skills: CCNPs and CCIEs.

    We are doing a study to establish a none profit Networking Institute in Jordan,
    That builds CCIEs,

    I’m contacting multiple channels to know the number of IT Graduates in Jordan: Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Telecommunications.

    Can any one help me to get these numbers?

    Based on that, we will do the capacity planning and the Initial cost estimation that is required for this project.

    Best regards,

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