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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.

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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.

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