E-skills report out of date

The E-Skills National Training Organisation has come under fire from business groups after it published a landmark report on the...

The E-Skills National Training Organisation has come under fire from business groups after it published a landmark report on the UK's IT workforce based on information that is a year old.

Industry leaders welcomed the E-Skills NTO's first annual report as an important step in tackling the UK's IT skills shortage but urged it to turn around future research more quickly.

The survey - the first in-depth examination of the IT workforce across all industry sectors - was conducted between December 2000 and February 2001, before the economic downturn started to bite and companies began to lay off IT professionals in large numbers.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, warned that crucial messages contained in the report could be overlooked because of the time lag before publication.

"Because the market has moved on and the immediate priority is now reskilling, people reading the report might not realise that a lot of the messages it contains are still valid and need to be acted on."

Other groups expressed alarm at the report's finding that nearly half of all UK organisations lacked a formal budget or training plan for their IT staff.

"It is surprising to see that almost half of all UK establishments employing ICT professionals had no formal training budget or plan," said Richard Wilson, business policy executive at the Institute of Directors.

"If disruptions to the operation and development of businesses are to be kept to a minimum, employers and managers must invest in the skills of their employees. A business that has a formal training budget and plan is more likely to spend its money effectively compared to a business without such a plan."

The survey also highlighted some intriguing regional variations in the IT labour market.

For example, while women are severely under-represented in the profession as a whole, nearly half (45%) of the IT staff in Northern Ireland are female, followed closely by the North East of England (42%).

On the issue of experience in job positions more than three-quarters (76%) of all IT professionals had spent three years or more in their current role.

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