Has IT outsourcing created the UK skills shortfall?

A colleague interviewed John Harris, chairman of IT user group The Corporate IT Forum and chief architect and vice president of global IT strategy at GlaxoSmithKline, recently and got his views of the UK skills shortage.

He, like many others, is of the opinion that years of outsourcing commodity IT skills is contributing to a lack of grass-roots IT talent today, because the talent pipeline is not being fed at the bottom end.

“While outsourcing did bring value, people moved jobs that should not have been moved. We outsourced our skills pipeline,” he said. Young people were not being given a chance to come into the industry.

“Yes, it may be more economical to outsource to India, but such a job may be the type of work that gives an apprentice a real grounding [in IT],” he said.

See the full interview here.

There has been loads in the press lately about the IT skills gap and genuine attempts to address the shortage of IT students that are capable of breaking into the corporate IT sector.

Outsourcing service providers themselves are getting involved in a Ministry of Justice and Business in the Community backed the project which aims to help students further their careers in IT. Nine of the biggest UK IT service providers have agreed to a charter for employing IT apprentices. These are Accenture, Atos, Capgemini, CSC, Fujitsu, HP, Logica, Siemens and Steria have all signed up to the charter.

Azim Premji, chairman at Indian IT outsourcing firm, has even offered to take UK students to India for 12 months to be trained up in software, IT and engineering.

In the Wipro programme students would receive three months classroom based training and nine months work based training.

The idea emerged when Premji met Prime Minister David Cameron when he travelled to India in 2010. Premji told the Telegraph newspaper that he and Cameron had talked about education and in particular the shortcomings of IT and engineering education.

Kevin Streater, executive director for IT and telecoms at the Open University, says IT teaching should be geared towards what the industry needs. For example competence in service management, cloud computing and big data requires a good foundation in computer science.

See an article by Streater on the subject.

What do you think?


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