Chatting to a soon-to-be retired professional rugby player the other day, it dawned on me how widespread technology has become. Fortunately for Marcus he’d prepared for his post-playing days by studying a Computer Science course in Plymouth, a degree that is not only great value for money, according to a recent study commissioned by Voucherbox, but one that is a license to print money and opens up a Pandora’s box of opportunities.
Graduating with a computer science degree is a smart career move, as there are so many different sectors where the skills learnt at university apply in a working environment – even rugby. A shortage of tech-savvy talent on the market means that demand for employees is currently outstripping supply, and when that’s the case, there can only be one winner – the job-seeking graduate. An article in The Independent ranked Computer Sciences highly in the list of Top 10 graduate salaries, With an average first post-university wage of £41,950 per annum, who says looking at screens all day is bad for you? Only Accounting and Engineering fared better.
Looking at 2015 quarter by quarter, there were on average 163,000 vacancies for digital specialists across the UK, according to Tech Partnership, the IT sector skills council. Developers were the most sought-after professionals, accounting for 27 percent of all digital jobs advertised.
As for Marcus, he’s landed himself a job at a company that specializes in providing elite club and international rugby teams with equipment designed to give them an edge over the opposition. “Combining rugby and computer science is my dream job,” he said. “I couldn’t have written a better job description had I wanted to.” That said, at 6’8 and 19 stone, he’d be a hard man to turn away at an interview.
Marcus will be focusing on performance analysis, a booming sector in rugby. With increasingly high stakes, teams are desperate to get an edge on the opposition in whatever way is possible. A player’s performance in training and games can be monitored by apps downloaded to the coaches’ phones, meaning there is simply no place to hide for any player shirking a tackle or not putting the hard yards in because the coach has all the data at his fingertips thanks to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and the like. To think that being mobile in rugby used to mean one thing: getting around the pitch and supporting play.
Go to a rugby match nowadays and the majority of times you’ll see more laptops and technology in the coaching area than the Press Box. While journalism, in its traditional format especially, is seemingly a profession in decline, the scope for jobs in technology is sky high.
Fan engagement, a buzzword in sport right now, has been quick to embrace mobile technology. Recently, I was at a game where the man-of-the-match award was chosen by supporters in the stadium via an app. Twickenham, home to English rugby and a bastion of the largely conservative upper-middle classes, has even embraced mobile technology, introducing a retail app called ZNAP in 2014 that allowed fans to avoid scrums for food and drink by placing an order from their seat so they could concentrate on the scrums taking place on the pitch instead.
Increasingly data driven, rugby is all the poorer as a spectacle according to the purist as it has become robotic and predictable but, from a career’s perspective, there has never been a better time to marry the two together. Just ask Marcus.