IT training short-changed under new funding plans

IT leaders have criticised a government proposal that could cut funding for IT training, warning it could lead to a "brain drain".

IT leaders have criticised a government proposal that could cut funding for IT training, warning it could lead to a "brain drain".

The proposed change is designed to increase the number of students getting a first degree by directing funding away from those studying for second qualifications, which often include technology training.

A Higher Education Funding Council for England consultation ended on 7 December, and a select committee inquiry into the decision will be held on 14 January.

Other Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects are exempt from the policy, but IT is not.

The policy will withdraw money given to institutions for students who are taking second qualifications of an equivalent or lower level than their first. It means that either the employee or the employer will have to pay for any technical training needed by non-IT graduates moving into the industry.

Ian Campbell, CIO at British Energy, said, "There may be a brain drain situation if the government waits too long to do something about the downward trend of IT graduates, with lots of knowledge going to other countries as companies outsource."

He said it is not just service-level IT, but higher value roles, such as design and architecture, that will increasingly disappear.

The leadership of IT-enabled business change projects could suffer as a result of the policy, said Jim Norton, senior policy adviser for e-business and e-government at the Institute of Directors. "We deplore any steps that make such dual qualification more difficult, and we believe this will have a negative effect on business of all sizes," he said.

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