Industry says Brown should have done more to bolster UK's IT skills

Gordon Brown missed an opportunity to introduce a training framework to update the skills of the UK's IT workforce in the Budget...

Gordon Brown missed an opportunity to introduce a training framework to update the skills of the UK's IT workforce in the Budget earlier this month, according to industry leaders.

Although the chancellor highlighted the importance of IT investment to the UK economy and announced enhanced tax incentives for research and development, measures to boost IT training and career development were not forthcoming.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, said the government should exempt employees and employers from paying income tax and national insurance contributions on full-time IT training.

He also urged the government to widen the focus of its national skills strategy, which aims to ensure that every adult in the UK is qualified to NVQ level two, to cover more advanced IT skills.

"The government is focused on NVQ2 and although it gets people onto the bottom rung of the ladder, this is not the area where we are uncompetitive," said Virgo.

"We need people with NVQ3 and NVQ4 who are capable of installing computer systems based on software packages and who are the kind of people who can deliver e-government modernisation.

"Unless we have massive annual spending to update our ICT skills, the skills we have will become outdated. Our IT skills base is atrophying."

David Roberts, chief executive of the Corporate IT Forum, said the IT profession needed to agree on a certification process to recognise skills and establish an institute to represent IT professionals, similar to the accountancy and legal professions.

"In my view, the British Computer Society is the one [organisation] with the significant independence and with enough standing to take on the mantle," said Roberts.

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