Your shout: course concerns, NHS under scrutiny, security standards

Computer Weekly readers give their views on the week's news.

Computer Weekly readers give their views on the week's news.

Creating more courses will not close skills gap

I am fully supportive of initiatives that encourage people to get into IT (Computer Weekly, 17 October), however, bringing in yet another course may not be the way forward.

A-levels and GCSEs are already in place. It is not the availability of courses, it's the out-of-context issue that is the problem. Students and people updating their skills need real life practice in the workplace while they are learning, where their education can come to life.

One reason many students drop IT once out of school is that there is next to no support or advice about the kind of job their qualifications could lead to. No wonder the popularity of the existing computing A-level diminishes year on year. The government needs to get behind this IT issue to help develop A-levels that are both valuable and attractive.

The solution is not to bring in yet another course. The solution is to make the most of what is already in place and help people realise just how wide the opportunities in IT are. That is where we must start in order to help close the IT skills gap that threatens our nation.

Julian Divett

Public scrutiny of NHS IT should not be feared

I doubt very much whether most of Fleet Street or other technical publications would have afforded the supporters of the NHS IT programme such balanced opinion pieces as you did (Computer Weekly, 24 October).

The real problem is that there are still far too many senior civil servants who believe that all of their problems will go away if there is no public scrutiny by parliament or the media.

Like both Richard Holway and Tony Collins, I want to see an NHS IT programme that actually delivers - as this will free up vast resources currently bogged down in paper systems that can be used to treat more patients.

However, Holway still has difficulty in seeing that "big bang" projects rarely work. Where are the pilot schemes being implemented? Are a fair mix of health trusts being picked? How are small and medium sized contractors to get a fair share of the work?

Why didn't Richard Granger go for either Apple Mac or IBM OS/2 environments?

If Granger has got it mostly right, then he has nothing to fear from a public scrutiny committee. In fact, this will make it easier for him to get more funds in the future if costs start to rise.

Chris Youett

Data security standard should be a top priority

Christian Annesley's article on information security (Computer Weekly, 23 October) outlines a very real problem.

The majority of businesses are wide open to data loss and the security threat from within is very real. Although the majority of employees are trustworthy, there is always a risk that a member of staff could steal or disclose confidential data, as Channel 4 showed in its programme about Indian call centres.

The recommended approach is to implement the best practice methods for information security as set out in the ISO27001 standard or its forerunner, BS7799. This covers how you work with technology and how you organise staff and access to data.

The certification is designed to reduce data security risks and shows that an organisation is actively working to take better care of its information.

Surprisingly, our research shows that fewer than 300 UK companies have taken the trouble to understand this standard and put the right working practices in place to gain certification.

It should be a top priority for all companies handling sensitive data, and they should insist that suppliers and outsourcing partners comply too.

Stuart Brown, services architect

The right connections for business continuity

It was good to read your SMB Focus on business continuity standards (Computer Weekly, 3 October). The new standard on business continuity is BS25999, which is set to be published in November.

The standard will be the world's first national standard on business continuity, and it has attracted great attention from organisations of all sizes, in all sectors. The draft was downloaded more than 5,000 times, highlighting the growing relevance of business continuity in business.

There is also a guidance document on IT service continuity, PAS77. The two are intimately connected: it is no use having technology available if you have no business, and there is generally little point having a business infrastructure if you have no supporting technology.

Chris Green,  chair, BCM/1 Technical Committee, British Standards Institute

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