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Businesses urged to support new business and technology diploma

Employers have been urged to support schools and colleges in the development of an IT diploma that will teach youngsters the technical and business skills needed for a ­career in the IT profession.

Sector skills council E-Skills UK said that the success of the diploma, which will offer an alternative to traditional A-levels from 2008, would depend heavily on schools and businesses working together.

Its comments follow a report by the Parliamentary Education and Skills Committee, which has raised concerns over the way the government is implementing the diploma.

MPs on the committee said they were concerned that small and ­medium-sized companies had not had enough input into the design and development of the qualification.

However, Margaret Sambell, head of strategy at E-Skills UK, said the organisation was confident that the diploma would teach students the skills needed by employers.

"We are very confident that the content of the diploma is right. A lot of current teaching focuses on teaching people how to use IT. There is concern about whether this is the most effective way of introducing people to technology. This diploma is very different," she said.

The diploma, which has won backing from companies including BT, Centrica, John Lewis and Vodafone, will teach a combination of IT practitioner and business skills. Six hundred small and medium-sized companies have contributed to its design, said Sambell.

E-Skills UK is calling for employers to work closely with schools by offering work experience to students, supplying case studies and giving lectures.

"We are developing a menu of options to make it easier for employers to contribute," said Sambell.

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