England.  Change location

Developing your career in IT and computing

IT and computing graduates are more valuable to employers than ever before.

The sector is growing rapidly and the UK is recognised as a world-leader in relation to its talent pool.

The OU has developed a suite of qualifications providing you with skills and knowledge that is of value out in the current jobs market. For example, there are five key areas where employers are short of skilled candidates, salaries are high for those with the relevant skills and knowledge including IT security, cloud computing, mobile, big data and web development. The OU offers modules covering these key areas and more.

The hottest IT and computing skills

In a Computerworld forecast survey, the ten hottest skills were:

  • IT Architecture.
  • Programming or application development.
  • Project management.
  • Big Data.
  • Business intelligence/analytics.
  • Helpdesk/technical support.
  • Database administration.
  • Security/compliance/governance.
  • Cloud/SaaS.
  • Web development.

A global marketplace

Globalisation is having a significant impact on the ICT/computing jobs market, with non-specialist design and development work moving increasingly off-shore and specialist, high value-added skills in high demand in the UK. In addition to technical expertise, employers will be looking for commercial awareness and good business skills, such as project management and leadership, business change, risk management and interpersonal skills (e.g. networking and relationship management). Future skills needs will be driven by the growth in the electronic communications network, mobile computing and the speed of work processes.

To get detailed information about typical jobs within the sector – including day-to-day activities, the qualifications you need and what you might expect to earn – visit the Prospects careers website. For IT sector news, analysis and information visit www.computing.co.uk, and for trends in recruitment visit IT Jobs Watch. If you live in Ireland, the GradIreland website is a good place to start.

How the OU can help

OU IT and computing graduates are highly regarded by employers for their ambition, drive, time management and organisational skills, and the ability to:

  • cope with rapid changes in technology
  • interpret, use and evaluate data
  • put together reasoned arguments and question assumptions
  • be effective communicators, capable of team working
  • understand the essential facts, principles, concepts, theories and techniques associated with the technology of computers and digital communication systems
  • identify and handle ethical, social and legal issues in relation to software development
  • design, program, test and evaluate software systems
  • draw together, analyse and critically evaluate information such as the extent to which a computer-based system meets defined requirements
  • learn independently and take on responsibility
  • manage personal development including using time management and organisational skills.

Our IT and computing qualifications aim to address market trends by training students in the specialist branches of computing that are most in demand. Courses have a strong work-based component to ensure compatibility with current industry needs, and you may be able to gain academic credit for prior work experience or software or technology vendor qualifications you already have. You can focus entirely on IT and computing or study a second subject alongside, such as business, mathematics, psychology, statistics or design.

See a list of IT and computing courses

Find out about postgraduate study

Getting started

If you’re not quite ready for degree-level study, our Science, technology and maths Access module (Y033) could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s designed to build your confidence and study skills while introducing subject knowledge in the disciplines of science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and ICT. By the end of the module, you’ll be well prepared to begin your first full OU course.

More about Access courses

Work experience

Many business and management roles will require significant experience in addition to a relevant qualification. Open University courses put you at a distinct advantage in this regard, as you’ll be encouraged to apply your learning immediately to your own role, and to build on your experience as a context for developing real-world knowledge and skills. However, if you’d benefit from additional settings in which to contextualise your learning, you could consider volunteering. To find out more, you can visit our voluntary work pages. The following websites may also provide information on work placement opportunities:

FACT: 95% of OU Information Technology and Computing graduates are in employment six months after they graduate.