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Budget 2011: Apprenticeships will struggle to plug IT skills gap

Jenny Williams

Government plans to fund more apprenticeships and work experience placements may fail to address demand for high-level skills in the IT industry, according to an industry expert.

Chancellor George Osborne today announced funding for 50,000 new apprenticeships over the next four years, and confirmed 80,000 additional work experience placements for young people as well as funding for 12 new university technical colleges (UTC).

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Andrew Tuson, course director at City University London's Centre for Information Leadership, is sceptical about apprenticeships bridging skills gaps in the IT industry or help unemployed IT graduates into jobs.

"The question is, can a successful apprenticeship be constructed to meet the gap between NEET (not in education, employment or training) and the high-level skills needed for IT roles? If the apprenticeships are aimed at too low a level, there will not be IT jobs for apprentices because of the movement towards high skill level within the industry," he added.

Tuson believes the 80,000 work experience placements offer the opportunity for IT employers to "inspire and engage with future IT professionals" but requires IT employers to take on placements.

Karen Price, CEO of E-skills UK, says the 10,000 higher level apprenticeships announced in the Budget as well as a "suite of IT apprenticeship programmes that meet the needs of the sector" will go some way to driving growth in the IT industry.

"It is essential that we work closely with employers to ensure that there is continued investment in the skills of the IT professionals that form the backbone of these sectors," she added.

The Chancellor is also giving businesses a tax break to help stimulate growth, which may improve the jobs market. "The tax breaks will free up cash flow and allow companies to again invest in their IT infrastructure. This is beneficial for the IT job market as highly skilled professionals are required to help manage growth initiatives and get key projects back on track," said Neil Hedges, senior manager at Robert Half Technology.

 


 


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