Skills fears as number of IT students plummets

Skills fears as number of IT students plummets

Bill Goodwin

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The UK is facing a shortage of skilled IT professionals following a sharp decline in the number of graduates studying IT at university, an industry report has warned.

The number of students studying IT over the past five years has halved to 20,000 a year - far short of the 150,000 new graduates estimated to be required by businesses.

The report, by Lancaster University Management School, the British Computer Society and Microsoft, warned that without concerted action the UK risked losing its position as a leading software development centre.

The group said in-house and commercial software development contributed more than £20bn a year to the UK economy.

Employers, universities and the government would need to collaborate to improve the image of IT, the report warned.

Some 102,000 IT jobs, representing 12% of the total UK IT workforce, will have been offshored by 2010. Even more employers could be forced to look offshore if the skills shortfall was not addressed, said Bola Rotibi, senior analyst at Ovum.

The report recommended:

l A rolling research programme to measure the impact of offshoring on UK software development

l The creation of industry-standard certification for high-level software development roles

l More rigorous certification to raise IT's professional image

l Addressing the variation in quality of computer science degrees.

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