Is the feared skills crisis merely hype?

Over the past year, it has been impossible to avoid discussing the IT skills

The press and industry experts have argued that Britain does not have the
necessary technology skills to succeed in the modern economy and it has been
predicted that the UK could face a skills deficit of 600,000 workers by 2003.

According to the simple rules of supply and demand, an IT skills shortage
should cause a marked increase in demand for IT training as companies seek to
train their workers and plug the skills gap.

In fact, many IT training organisations, KnowledgePool included, have not
experienced such a steep increase in demand.

One could argue that in today’s unstable economic climate, this basic relationship
between supply and demand has been skewed and that a fall-off in training could
be attributed to slashed training budgets.

However, I would argue that even in a recession, most companies understand
that they cannot afford to let their staff’s IT skills fall off.

Indeed, in recession when redundancies are common, it is even more essential
that staff are as productive and highly skilled as possible so that companies
can maintain their competitive advantage.

Training is not a luxury to be foregone until better times, it is a
necessity that companies cannot afford to do without.

So, if cut budgets do not explain why there has not been an increase in
demand for training courses, there must be another explanation, and I would
suggest that it is a simple one.

It seems to me that the real reason there hasn’t been a surge in demand for
training as a result of the UK’s skills shortage is that there is in fact no
skills shortage.

Indeed, considering the number of skilled employees who have recently been
made redundant, we are more likely to have an excess of skilled staff.

The UK has a highly trained and efficient workforce, ready to take on the
demands of the new economy.

Technology is the way of the future and with new technologies being launched
every week, IT training will always be necessary, but I believe the IT training
industry is currently meeting a steady and continuous demand, not seeking to
tackle a huge skills deficit.

I would argue that the law of supply and demand does tell a story and it is
one that Britain should be proud of. Our workforce already has the basic skills
necessary to face the 21st century with confidence.

The task now facing UK plc is to ensure that the skills of the workforce are
maintained and developed at a pace that keeps up with the ever changing IT

Paul Butler
CEO, KnowledgePool

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