Do we or don't we have a IT skills shortage in the UK?

Westminister eForum thinks so.

I received an invite to seminar about how to address the UK’s IT and computing skills gap from the Westminister eForum . It said there is an estimated shortfall of half a million IT professionals in the UK economy.

When writing about IT outsourcing you cannot avoid writing about offshoring. And when you write about offshoring you cannot avoid getting into a debate about the availability of IT skills in the UK.

There are basically two camps. There are the IT workers and employee groups that say there is not a shortage of IT skills in the UK but there are thousands of unemployed IT professionals.

Then you have the businesses using offshore services that say they cannot find the skills in the UK.

There is lots of evidence to support the claim that UK IT professionals are struggling to get work as a result of the increased offshoring of IT work. For example the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) found that Computer Science graduates are the largest group of unemployed graduates in the UK. Its figures from July revealed that 17% of 2009 computer science graduates were unemployed. This is the highest and the average graduate unemployment is 10%.

So if we are to have a reasoned debate on the availability of IT skills in the UK we need to have a clear picture of the skills available. Are they in short supply or not?