'Timing sucks' for London banking IT training centre

The government and major banks are backing an IT training centre that will produce up to 20 PhD students specialised in financial services computing.

The government and major banks are backing an IT training centre that will produce up to 20 PhD students specialised in financial services computing.

But the current economic turbulence could leave graduates without jobs to go to.

The UK Doctoral Training Centre in Financial Computing is an attempt to keep London at the centre of the financial services industry. The project is to receive about £6m funding from the government.

Financial services companies rely on complex computing. The skills of IT workers in the sector are considered the best commercially available.

Ralph Silva, an analyst at Towergroup, said he supports the idea but he said, "the timing sucks". There is currently little demand for this type of employee, he explained.

"I agree with it because it will improve London's chances of being the centre of financial services, but I am concerned about the timing. Where will the graduates work?"

The investment banking industry is experiencing thousands of job cuts as mergers are completed and companies prepare for a slowdown in business. As many as 300,000 people could have lost their jobs in the financial services sector globally by the end of 2009, with as many as 25% drawn from IT professionals.

The centre will be at the UCL in collaboration with the LSE and London Business School. The government funding is through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC). The centre will be one of seven which set up by the ESPRC.

Each UCL Centre will have 50 students to take part in four-year doctorate programmes over the next five years. The first intake of doctorate students will join in October 2009.

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