The latest Kew Associates/ Computer Weekly report on IT expenditure identifies a rise in education and training spend of 19.5% for 2002.
"Organisations are being forced to spend on training because they are being forced to sweat their assets," said Kew Associates director and report author Kris Wicka. "IT is also penetrating deeper and deeper into the economy, with applications such as customer relationship management. End-users are becoming more of a focal point. Organisations have to do more training."
This trend will be sustained "for the foreseeable future", said Wicka. He pointed to areas such as the health sector, where one million users will have to be trained to use new IT over the next few years.
Some industry experts have warned that UK companies could be caught out if they fail to invest in the IT skills that will be needed in the future, resulting in a repeat of the skills gap seen in the late 1990s. Training staff now could help to avoid such an outcome.
"This is really encouraging," said Christopher Young, IT director of the Impact Programme, a mentoring organisation for IT staff. "It will help staff retention and implies that these organisations are planning to hold on to the people they are training, which is hugely encouraging."
The major losers from the training boom are consultants and contract workers. The report found a drop in expenditure on these areas of 4.5% and 7.9% respectively in 2002 as companies froze recruitment, downsized staff requirements and looked to maximise use of existing human resources.