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Spending boom exposes lack of skilled IT workers

Bill Goodwin

Employers are experiencing the first signs of a new IT skills shortage as businesses begin stepping up investment in IT systems after four years of belt tightening.

An estimated 15,000 businesses in the UK face difficulty filling their IT vacancies, according to an analysis of supply and demand published this week by E-Skills UK and Gartner.

And the problem will get worse unless there is a concerted effort by the government, employers and universities to transform

the way IT professionals are trained and supplied, the research said.

A survey of 3,200 businesses conducted by E-Skills and Gartner found that even though the recovery in the jobs market is still at an early stage, more than a third of employers with IT vacancies have had difficulties finding people to fill them.

Some 75% of these firms said they had to delay new products and services because of a lack of suitable IT staff. More than 40% have incurred increases in operating costs and 22% have lost business to competitors.

"A lot of projects have been taken off the shelf, dusted down and are being pursued. There is no doubt the demand for skilled people is going up," said John Handby, chief executive of IT directors’ group CIO Connect.

The rise in offshore outsourcing will mean that traditional IT jobs are replaced with roles that are more focused on using business and project management skills. But employers, universities and the education system are ill-equipped to train and deliver IT professionals with these skills, according to the E-Skills/Gartner research.

E-Skills UK is working with the government, employers and universities to create an urgent action plan to address the problems.

Karen Price, chief executive of E-Skills UK, said, "The underlying problem is the pace of change and the scale of change. The skills requirements of every business, every employee and every citizen will need to be transformed. We need higher level and more pervasive skills."


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