Training bodies hamstrung by split

The development of IT skills in the UK has been split between competing national organisations when the industry should be...

The development of IT skills in the UK has been split between competing national organisations when the industry should be presenting a united front to government - so says the new chairman of the IT National Training Organisation (ITNTO), Alwyn Welch, chief executive of IT services group Cap Gemini UK

But the rival e-business.nto, formed last year, says it is being successful in its own right.

The organisations, endorsed by the Government but mainly funded by employers, oversee National Vocational Qualifications and advise companies and the Government on skills trends. The ITNTO was formed in 1997 but existed before that as the IT Industry Training Organisation and launched National Vocational Qualifications in 1993. Welch, in his first public appearance as chairman, said it was "crazy and ridiculous" that there were "competing NTOs".

"We must keep the profile of IT high on the Government agenda. But that means the industry must act in unison." he told the audience of employers and training firms.

Later, an ITNTO official said privately that the rival e-business.nto had been formed as the Electronics and Software Services NTO but was now broadening its scope and overlapping the ITNTO.

Welch's views are in line with those of the Government's IT, communications and electronics skills strategy group calls for a single skills council and a simpler scheme of IT qualifications. But the e-business.nto, now also with a new chairman, Compaq director Gareth Cadwallader, takes a different stance.

"The challenge facing NTOs in IT is the breadth of remit, covering as it does more than 1.5 million practitioners and 17 million users," said chief executive Karen Price. "There is now emerging a need for greater clarity of the roles of both NTOs.

"Whether we are best served by one NTO or a number of strongly collaborative NTOs is not yet clear," she added.

However, both chairmen are committed to resolving this so that the UK has an NTO structure that can lead the nation's drive for world class skills."

"The e-business.nto, with its single-minded focus on the services community, has been particularly successful in engaging employers with its many initiatives to address skills shortages,"

Read more on IT education and training