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IT industry calls for the government to fill Stem skills gap

The government has invested in Stem initiatives but the IT industry still thinks it could be doing more to fill the skills gap

Three-quarters of IT professionals think the government should be doing more to address the IT skills gap, according to research by IT event firm IP Expo.

The survey claimed 75% of the IT industry workforce thinks the government is not doing enough to convince young people into careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) disciplines.

This is despite initiatives set up by government promising to deliver 1,360 apprenticeships, 240 traineeships, 150 industry degrees, 230 modular masters modules and 5,900 workforce development opportunities over the next two years, to encourage young people to take up jobs in the Stem sector.

“These jobs are high in demand and vital in boosting the UK economy so the government must do more to boost recruitment into these professions,” said IP Expo Europe director of strategy Bradley Maule-ffinch.

“It’s disappointing that businesses don’t feel the government is spending enough on Stem initiatives,” he added.

This pattern can be seen across the whole of the UK, with 86% of IT staff in the East Midlands, 83% of IT professionals in Wales and 71% of IT workers in Northern Ireland claiming the government should spend more on Stem schemes.

In north-east England, just under a quarter of respondents believed the government was doing enough to encourage young people into Stem careers in an attempt to close the skills gap.

Read more about IT skills

  • BT acts to close the skills gap in sponsoring a higher education technology scheme and plans to teach digital skills to primary school children
  • Microsoft-endorsed firm Azzure IT has launched an IT skills academy to teach development, customer support and consultancy in a bid to close the skills gap

IP Expo exhibiter and director of education programmes at Cloudera, Mark Morrissey, said the government should partner with other organisations to drive forward positive growth in Stem industries.

"There is increased competition to recruit technical talent that inhibits the market growth of several new, disruptive technologies," he said.

"Government, industry, and academia need to find avenues of collaboration to highlight the benefits of an IT-related education, and help provide access to the training necessary to pursue Stem-related careers."

Earlier in 2015 a paper by TechUK also recommended collaboration as a solution to closing the skills gap and claimed the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should work together to assess the successes and challenges of the new computing curriculum in solving the problem.

The IT industry is still finding it difficult to find skilled workers, and Heath Jackson, partner in the CIO Advisory practice at KPMG, recently claimed companies looking for employees in the limited talent pool need to offer more to be competitive.

Read more on IT technical skills

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There is no point in Government spending more on stem programmes unless IT employers support and use them - particularly by supporting careers activities in schools and taking on more interns, trainees and apprentices of all ages.
What @PhilipVirgo said and even moreso. It's impossible to have an effective STEM program as long as federal and local governments slash education funding. It's well-past time for our industry to (1) elect politicians who believe in education and (2) start investing in IT workers and apprenticeship programs. Yes, there will be considerable cost involved, but it will be a whole lot less expensive than trying to function without essential workers. 
Wow! I have seldom seen so many buzzword bedecked quotes in one article. That must mean it's really important !

Seriously though, while UK PLC keeps saying "We don't do training here" this years fresh graduates will be next years unemployed. Firms need to budget in staff development and actual proper training into the base costs associated with employing a technology worker. Almost all the firms I have had dealings with in this area just want to pick up people who already have yards of experience in their particular pet techs, and somehow think that they'll just magically keep up with the latest greatest by osmosis or something. You may suggest that they keep up in their own time in the evenings and weekends, as many firms do; but unless they are paid so richly that they can afford the £1.5-2K price tag on formal industry courses with recognized certificates, that is just not going to happen.

Next time some firm howls at you about skills shortages, tell them that it's their fault because they didn't train anyone.