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UK moves to head off IT skills shortages

Leading employers and government departments gave their backing in March to an action plan designed to ensure that businesses have access to the IT skills they need over the next 10 years.

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Leading employers and government departments gave their backing in March to an action plan designed to ensure that businesses have access to the IT skills they need over the next 10 years.

The E-Skills Sector Skills Agreement aims to solve the underlying training and recruitment problems that have led to shortages of skilled IT professionals.

The agreement won backing from the government, universities, employers including Ford, British Airways, Vodafone and John Lewis, and suppliers such as EDS and IBM.

The plan recognises that as basic IT functions are moved offshore, the UK's IT professionals will increasingly need business and management skills.

The first fruits of the agreement began to appear during the year, as employers and colleges began to work more closely together, and universities began to offer redesigned IT degrees, more closely matched to the needs of employers.

The new-style degrees combine business, IT and communications skills in equal measure, and will increasingly incorporate supplier certificates in the syllabus.

A network of IT academies will provide accelerated training in business and communication skills for practising IT staff .

Despite initiatives such as this,  Forrester Research warned that Europe could face a "war for talent" in the new year as spending on IT starts to increase. Project managers, IT professionals with legacy skills, and staff with the skills to manage and integrate open source code will be in short supply, the analyst firm predicted.

Potential skills shortages could be exacerbated by a heavy demand for IT professionals to run large public sector IT projects, particularly in the health service.

Computer Weekly reported towards the end of the year that the pay gap between the public and private sectors had closed for the first time, making the public sector a more attractive proposition for IT professionals.

 

This was first published in December 2005

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