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Reuse and recycle the key skills

Last week, the heads of the CBI and the British Chamber of Commerce, together with the European IT Commissioner warned of the competitive threat from IT skills shortages

Last week, the heads of the CBI and the British Chamber of Commerce, together with the European IT Commissioner warned of the competitive threat from IT skills shortages.

The government is worried and is finalising a three-year strategy plan to address e-skills. But alongside this action sits deep frustration.

Employers do not invest sufficiently in IT training or retraining, employees cannot afford it and government screws up. Green cards for foreigners is a short- term cop-out, as is the receding propensity to pay fortunes from variable cost budgets to IT contractors. The latency in the workforce is ignored.

There is no IT resourcing crisis: we have a re-use one. We need to retrain older staff and encourage women returners. IT needs bright people who take an interest in business and its impact, not techno geeks. So training has to encompass business issues too.

We also need an aggressive strategy to train and encourage end-users to do maintenance for themselves. So industry and government must develop mechanisms for cross disciplinary funding to generate the integrated skills required. If they do not, IT skills will remain an insoluble IT problem, not the soluble business challenge it really is.

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