Are businesses creating an IT skills gap by reducing training?

Having blogged about the UK IT skills gap debate I have had some great comments from IT professionals.

As I said yesterday one reader, known as Matt, has created a questionnaire aimed at IT professionals to help paint a more accurate picture of the availability of skills in the UK. If you have time please fill it in.

Another reader, going by the name of Argiebee, has also contributed and provided a link to research from e-skills.

It reveals that in 2001 35% of IT & Telecoms professionals reported that they had received training in the last 13 weeks. But by 2009 this had dropped to 21%.

Every big company I have ever worked for has always preached about the importance of training. And I think it is much more important for IT professionals to be regularly trained because technology changes so much. Us journalists have been doing the same thing for thousands of years. Ok the web shook us up a bit, but even then we are basically doing the same thing.

So why are IT & Telecoms professionals receiving less training than ten years ago.

Are companies outsourcing more to save money on training? Where will this leave the UK in the future?

The e-skills report also reveals some figures that might reduce the UK’s competitiveness in the future. These are:

– A-level Computing uptake down by 50% since 2003
– 45% reduction in applicants for Computing degrees since 2001. In 2009 only 15,000 people applied for these courses, compared to 27,000 in 2001.

– About 10% of companies with IT and Telecoms professionals report gaps in their skills.
– In three years time this will be worse and training requirements will increase by a third.

But training is going down.

See this link from Argiebee for the full e-skills report (you have to sign in but it only takes a couple of minutes).

As well as Matt and Argiebee thanks to the following for their contributions.

Steve Burrows
Steve Hunt
Ahmad R. Shahid

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When I graduated 15 years ago, offshoring and the use of ICT visas to bring in overseas resource was either non-existent or negligible.

Almost all companies with sizeable UK based IT operations would have some kind of IT trainee program. Soon after graduating, I applied for an IT trainee position at several companies and got numerous job offers.

Degrees from UK universities are of a high standard and IT is no exception. Hence, I found that the deep foundations which my course had provided me with would enable me to pick up new technologies quite quickly. Within just a few months of my traineeship, I was highly productive and able to make a positive contribution to core systems development at the company I was working for.

Contrast that with today's position where the availability of offshore resource and the ability to bring in junior resource on ICT visas has enabled companies to gradually decrease or even totally scrap their IT trainee programmes. If the jobs aren’t there for these graduates then they won’t study the subject in the first place. Hence, the cycle of a decreasing home-grown pool of talent which all the statistics that you have provided seem to back up.