I attended a roundtable event today at Intellect, the IT industry group. It was all about the use of technology to improve education as a whole as well as improving the teaching of what is broadly known as computing and encompasses ICT, Computer science, IT and Digital Literacy.
The part about using technology is an interesting subject, particularly when you have a five year old clamoring for the internet and a 2.5 year old only being kept off the computer by a stronger sibling. But having such a distinguished panel of academics and people from the IT supplies community was a great opportunity to get some views on the debate about how IT offshoring is contributing to a shortage of IT skills in the UK.
One of the panelists described the gap in the IT skills required in the UK and those available. She said there are 100,000 IT posts that need filling but the skills are not there.
So I asked all six panelists to answer the simple question: If there are 100,000 UK IT jobs that need filling why are there about 40,000 unemployed IT professionals in the UK? They all agreed that there is a mismatch between the skills being taught and those needed buy the industry. Not a single one of the six pointed to the offshoring of IT jobs to cut costs as a reason for the high unemployment in the IT profession.
“People are not being taught the most up to date technology skills,” said one panellist. She has a point. So is the education system to blame? Many disagree and believe offshoring IT jobs is not only reducing the number of IT jobs in the UK but also adding to future skills shortages as the best graduates steer clear of IT through fear of all the jobs going offshore.
Back in 2010 I wrote a blog titled: Is offshoring making Computer Science graduates the largest unemployed group? This was about figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). They showed that in 2009 recent Computer Science graduates had the highest rate of unemployment six months after graduating, with 17% out of work.
Add to this the fact that many that were in work might not have been working in a job related to their degree and you have a problem. One exacerbated by the offshoring of IT jobs, according to many.
I have recently returned to the subject and asked for people’s views on what the government should do to create more IT professionals that have the skills required by businesses?
I asked: Do you think IT outsourcing has contributed to a shortage of UK IT professionals? Out of 67 respondents 58 answered yes. Many of the respondents suggest the government should put a stop to the practice of offshore suppliers bringing workers to the UK on Intra Company Transfers.
Here is the questionnaire if you want to fill in the questionnaire.