South-east wins cream of IT staff

AN influx of IT workers to the south-east is damaging other regions' drive to take part in the new economy, research shows.

AN influx of IT workers to the south-east is damaging other regions' drive to take part in the new economy, research shows.

David Brown

The Government's goal that all citizens should be able to take advantage of the new economy are not compatible with the uneven distribution of skills, according to the research and strategy consultancy The Local Futures Group.

The information economy accounts for three quarters of all jobs in the City and between one third and a half in several London boroughs, Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire. But in parts of Scotland, Wales and the East Midlands it accounts for less than 6% of jobs,

The report recommends reversing the trend through initiatives on finance, housing and urban renewal. It calls for measures to boost the small business sector.

The report was published in response to the Government's White Paper on competitiveness.

"If we are going to have a new economy with opportunities for everybody then you have got to have a strategy that actually provides the knowledge infrastructure across the country," said the report's author, Mark Hepworth.

"At present people with information technology skills are concentrated in the south-east and in a few cities like Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh. Britain needs to follow the lead of countries like the US and Germany where the information economy is more decentralised."

The report says much of the UK is ill-prepared for the new economy, with six million people - one in six of the working age population - having no formal educational qualifications.

Differences between communities are "alarming". Forty per cent of the former mining community of Blaenau, Wales, has no qualifications, compared with 6% in Wokingham in the hightech M4 corridor.

This was last published in March 2001

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