Is it getting harder for young web designers to enter the field?

Every year, A List Apart compile a survey covering just about everything you could want to know about people currently working in the web industry.  Whether you’re wondering how much the average designer earns, where they work from or how old they are, you can find that out and much more.

We had a look through the findings from this year’s survey, and it’s all looking peachy keen for designers in 2011. However, there was one point that made us pause and think…

One aspect the survey looked at, was how much we all enjoy working with the web. While respondents already working in the field seem pretty content with their lot, younger coders searching for their first job were a lot less happy.

Following the publication of the survey, we were wondering what could be hampering young folk’s entry to the field. Our first thought was that this suggests a lack of entry level jobs., but a quick search showed plenty of leads, so we began to wonder what else could be causing the dissatisfaction.

Our second thought was that maybe the jobs are out there, but that graduates aren’t entering the workplace with the correct skills. With the field moving so quickly and with so many different approaches, are our university courses able to move fast enough and keep students on the cutting edge of the field, or are the courses stuck in a time loop, teaching students skills and standards that have been left behind with the arrival of new web technologies?

In a previous interview with Ubelly, Andy Budd from Clearleft voiced his concerns about the quality of teaching at universities.

There are plenty of training opportunities for web designers, but the problem is the quality. Technology gets out of date so quickly, yet many of the tutors aren’t always the right people to be putting the courses together. They’re either academics who are detached from the industry, or their knowledge is so out of date it’s irrelevant.

We run an internship at Clearleft (Andy’s company) and our interns often tell us they know more than their lecturer. At 19, you’re told you have to go to college to be a successful designer, but you don’t learn what you need to know. Students then tend to either drop out or feel like they wasted 3 years of their life learning something they can’t use. It’s endemic of a larger problem – lots of people think web design is technology based, or tool based. Students get told they have to use Dreamweaver, but it’s just not true.

Andy is not alone in raising these concerns. Nor, is it a particularly new debate. In an article for JavaWorld, Esther Schindler concluded that “If a company really and truly wants the best programmers it can hire, it should ditch the “college degree” requirement. Now.”

Do you think degrees and college courses help or hinder aspiring designers and developers? And how hard do you think it is right now for young coders to get their foot in the door?

Published by Liam

Liam is a new member of the Ubelly writing team. He has a background in web, online publishing and social media; spending his time tinkering with Wordpress, Foursquare, Facebook and his DSLR. He has a love for all things creative and visual.

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