Northern Ireland needs skills to match IT boom

Northern Ireland faces an IT skills shortfall unless businesses and colleges take urgent action, E-Skills UK has warned.

Northern Ireland faces an IT skills shortfall unless businesses and colleges take urgent action, E-Skills UK has warned.

A study by the sector skills council, conducted with the help of more than 550 employers, predicted that the IT industry in Northern Ireland would grow at more than three times the rate of overall employment over the next 15 years.

About 2,000 new entrants to the IT workforce are needed every year to fill increasingly complex roles, E-Skills said. However, the number of people choosing to study IT-­related subjects continues to fall.

Together with employers, educators and the government, E-Skills UK has worked with Momentum, the trade association for IT companies in Northern Ireland, to create an action plan - the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) for IT - designed to avert the skills shortfall.

"Businesses and the entire Northern Ireland economy are dependent on a workforce with the right IT skills," said E-Skills UK chief executive Karen Price. "The SSA for IT has united employers and other partners in a coherent strategy for skills improvement. This is not just about the IT sector, but helping businesses in every sector, which depend increasingly on IT."

Momentum and its partners are working on programmes to support careers advisers in Northern Ireland and promote understanding of IT career options. They will also establish a joint higher education and industry forum to bring employers and universities together.

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