Having recently interviewed a number of Graduates for a Web Development assistant position, my concerns over the formal teaching of web design in our Colleges and Universities have not exactly been alleviated.
While I’d fully expect to see some sort of “skills gap” between those candidates straight from university, and those with a little real-world experience, it is the size of that gap that continues to worry me.
I’d like to stress that all our recently graduated candidates were bright, intelligent and talented individuals, all with (or about to get) good degrees – they are not at fault – but I fear the institutions teaching them, and preparing them for a career in web design are letting them down.
One or two actually hinted at being fully aware that what, and how they were taught was not “recent”, and that they knew they’d need to learn new skills immediately. We had 1 guy interview who was entirely self taught, and said the only reason he did his university course was to get the bit of paper that confirmed he could do it. He then went on to say that he was actually worried that during the 3 years formal education he might actually “un-learn” all his good habits with the bad habits he was being shown. By bad habits he was referring to things like table-based layouts, ignorance of semantic markup, and lack of standards or css. All quite worrying stuff…
I recently did a lecture to the School of Computing and Creative Technologies within the University of Abertay, Dundee, to an audience of Computer Arts and Web Design Students. At the time I was really encouraged by the enthusiasm and feedback from the lecture hall, which later spilled out into the café – the majority were genuinely interested, asked some great questions, and left me with a positive outlook on web design (and technology) education. So clearly the passion is there, I just hope it’s backed up by the teaching of relevant skills.
Personally – if I were a student considering my options for web design and development at University or College, I’d be damn keen to interview them – not the other way around. Challenge their bold statements on their websites about “web standards” and “advanced web authoring” and get down to the detail about what you’re actually going to teach me. Show me a <TABLE> and I’m gone.