IT workforce short on skills, official survey warns

Nearly 60% of employers believe their staff need to improve their IT skills, according to research published today by E-skills...

Nearly 60% of employers believe their staff need to improve their IT skills, according to research published today by E-skills UK, the government/private sector partnership for IT training.

The figure, which represents an 11% increase since 2002, highlights the growing importance of IT to businesses, despite the general downturn in IT spending.

Better programming and IT operating skills heading the list of employers demands, the E-skills regional gap report, which compares demand for IT skills with supply across the UK, shows.

Despite the downturn, employers are still reporting difficulty filling vacancies in some parts of the country, particularly the East of England, and Yorkshire and Humberside. In contrast, employers in the East Midlands, West Midlands and the North West have few difficulties.

The outlook for IT employment in London and the South East is still gloomy, as large firms continue to shed IT contractors and reduce their permanent IT workforce.

IT employment will fall by 2% in London and 7% across the South East as a whole over the next year, equivalent to a total loss of some 24,000 jobs.

But prospects are brighter in the rest of the country with Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and the East of England, likely to experience a growth in employment of between 0.5% and 4%.

The report reveals that more youngsters are showing an interest in IT as a potential career. More than 135,000 students took an IT-related GCSE in 2001, up from 100,000 two years previously, with more than half gaining grades A to C.

In the same year, more than 27,000 students sat an A level in computer studies or an equivalent Scottish Higher, with more than three-quarters of them achieving a pass. More than 80,000 candidates completed courses equivalent to NVQ proficiency levels.

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