New degree launched to help close IT skills gap

A new foundation degree will be launched at 12 colleges around the UK this autumn to address the nation’s growing IT skills gap.

The part-time computer systems management foundation degree has been piloted since 2006 at the Thames Valley University (TVU), which developed the degree with computer maker Hewlett-Packard (HP).

HP said the course is specifically designed for part-time students, allowing people in full-time employment to complete the degree over a two-year period. Those participating in the course have the option to continue for an additional year and gain full BSc honours.

Professor Andy Smith, head of TVU’s school of computing, said the course will cut down IT outsourcing by UK companies.

“The number of school leavers entering full-time courses in computing has halved in recent years. This is in contrast to research that suggests that 163,000 new employees will be needed in the IT profession by 2016,” said Smith.

“Without significant action, either more jobs will be lost through outsourcing abroad, or the nation’s business as a whole will suffer major problems relying on IT infrastructures,” he added.

TVU’s sites in Ealing and Reading will offer the foundation course along with 11 colleges around the UK where prospective students are located, according to Mike Bicknell, business development manager for HP.

“Working towards closing the IT skills gap, the foundation degree is a result of more than three years’ collaboration between HP and TVU. We are excited with the new delivery of a degree where both the needs of employers and the academic structure will be met,” said Bicknell.

Recently, Microsoft launched an apprenticeship scheme for 16-to-19-year-olds in the West Midlands to improve local skills needs.

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