Leading employers are backing an initiative to change the negative attitudes of young people to the IT profession.
The Revitalise IT scheme, launched today (18 September), aims to bring together schools, universities and employers to improve students' perceptions of IT as a career. Vodafone, Microsoft, the BBC, Cisco, LogicaCMG, Accenture and John Lewis have signed up to the initiative, with more employers expected to join as it develops.
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"The IT sector makes a vital contribution to the UK's prosperity. But every year fewer young people undertake an IT-related degree, with a drop of about half since 2001. There is a mismatch here that urgently needs to be addressed," said Karen Price, chief executive of E-Skills UK, which is co-ordinating the scheme.
The sector skills council hopes to engage with 40,000 students over the two-year pilot programme. It is putting on 50 employer-led workshops in schools across London and the South East, and it will help universities to map their curricula to ensure graduates have the skills employers want.
The scheme, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council, will go national if successful.
Richard Pettinger, director of the information for business programme at University College London, said, "The employer involvement is a major boost for us. We have been slow to respond to this problem. It is no longer enough to teach computer science - you have to put it in context."