COLLEGES are not equipping the country's IT graduates with the necessary skills to get a job, company executives have warned.
The executives say the universities focus too much on theory and not enough on practice, and also teach 'old' computer languages, which are no longer used in the workplace.
The Brightwater IT 2013 survey of 174 senior IT executives in Ireland includes the opinions of senior staff from most of the biggest-name IT companies based in Ireland.
IT executives were asked 'Do you feel local universities have given IT graduates the skills and knowledge they require to secure a job within IT?'
Of the 109 executives who answered the question, a slight majority of 55 said 'yes' while 54 answered 'no'; 44 did not express an opinion and 10 chose to give an alternative answer by private submission.
The thumbs-down for Irish universities makes for grim reading at a time when unemployment among graduates is running as high as 25pc.
But at the same time, 4,500 jobs are going unfilled because of skills shortages.
This is the third major report since the start of the year to raise questions about Irish college courses and their relationship with the IT industry here.
The 4,500 vacancies were revealed last week by Fast Track to Technology, which also said 10,000 more new jobs in the short term were now in danger of going to foreign candidates.
The Brightwater survey shows senior executives in IT believe a "lack of experienced candidates" is a major issue, with 59.4pc citing this as the biggest problem facing the sector.
Just over one-fifth (21.1pc) blamed the universities and colleges – citing "inadequate third-level education" as the sector's greatest problem.
"There's a big disconnect between what a lot of third-level colleges are teaching and what employers want," says Hugh McCarthy, manager of IT recruitment at Brightwater.
"Many of the core computer science degrees concentrate too much on the theoretical.
"Some colleges are even teaching 'old-school' mainframe languages, which are now considered defunct."