Select Committee Enquiry into ICT Skills Funding Cuts

The Innovation, Universities and Skills Committee is to conduct an enquiry into “Funding for Equivalent and Lower Qualifications (ELQs)”. It is the cuts in these which threaten to wipe out ICT conversion and updating courses.

The terms of reference and notice calling for evidence do not refer directly to the impact on the supply of ICT skills but Iain Sutherland’s posting to my previous entry on this topic points out the impact on, for example, the supply of information security skills. In my briefing note on skills for the Parliament and Interent conference I quoted Iain’s recent research on the courses and qualifications most valued by those working in the information security industry and their employers (his clients). The MSc programmes of eight UK universities came top – above any of the professional qualifications.

These courses and their lower level and modular equivalents, all similarly affected by the “ELQ” cuts, are also one of the main sources of training for police forces. I have just been sent a story in PC Pro headed “Police email reveals Ebay investigation shambles“.

Ebay is one of those organisations which takes the issues very seriously, including helping train both police and trading standards officers in how to investigate fraud involving their service. But they cannot handle the consequences if there are too few police competant to handle IT-related investigations to train – and there is no co-ordination across force boundaries.

Do read the DIUS Select Committee calling notice for evidence and submit your views (ideally by January 7th, not 14th as it says in the notice) on why the ICT conversion and update courses, including those for information security, are so important.

It is all very well Digby-Jones launching a UK Trade & Investment initiative to sell UK ICT last week, but we will have nothing to sell unless we take workforce updating and professional development very much more seriously. And we need skills and training, not just enquiries and policies, if we are to rebuild confidence in public sector information security (more on this next week).

P.S. I note that the President of the BCS has just signed the Number 10 petition calling for action on a police central e-crime unit. It is very good to see BCS taking a professional lead in this way.