blogs/blog_gradute.jpg Recently we have been recruiting for a new programmer and have found the right person in Peter Smith (more on that in the news section no doubt). What we found through many, many interviews was the poor state of education in candidates for digital positions such as a web developer. Having seen a lot of recent graduates we were generally disappointed by the calibre of work that came through. Many of the candidates showed recent university projects that we believed to be of a poor standard yet they had been awarded good grades. The system is flawed!

Here’s the issue – and one that I believe has been around for a long time. Education does not match the real world. So many projects had a specific task that needed to be accomplished; the students were only marked on one set of criteria. So for instance if it was a database module then getting the system to simply make those database transactions was sufficient, who cares how the user interface works? Who cares whether code produced is accessible and search engine friendly? These didn’t seem to concern the university lecturer! Even when I looked at final year projects, where there should be an all encompassing view of the website development, there were gaping issues, for example using table based design (that’s only 3+ years out of date!), poor javascript implementation, inefficient (even naive) user interface design, to name but a few issues...

University syllabuses, as I understand, do have a long approval process that can be years, however this means that whenever the material comes to be taught it’s out of date. It’s hard as a lecturer to cover a lot of areas in the short amount of teaching time given, and I appreciate each module does have a specific teaching, however it isn’t enough. University, at least for me, was a combination of great learning and life experience (with the odd bit of alcohol here and there possibly). We need to really up the ante for website developers and designers. No longer can they be taught out of date techniques and woefully ignore the most important website issues in the real world. We can do better!

Now, at Blueleaf we’re not the kind of people to rant and not do anything about it! I have got on board with Manchester Digital, an organisation to help the digital sector around Manchester generally, and become heavily involved with the collaboration and education group in an effort to improve this specific issue. There’s a lot to be said for industry providing hands on experience to teach the real world techniques needed for these graduates. We look forward to playing a big part of the sector going forwards.