HR advises ministers to get women into IT

Senior HR professionals are to advise government ministers on ways to
increase the number of women in IT to address skills shortages in the sector.

The newly formed panel, called the Champions Group, has the backing of Trade
and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

According to the DTI, women make up only a fifth of IT graduates and this
has been falling since 1994. The number of women in the IT industry is also
dropping, currently accounting for only 22 per cent of the workforce.

Chairwoman of the seven-member Champions Group, Rebecca George, director of
UK government business at IBM, said business people and government advisers
fear that when the UK economy recovers, IT skills shortages could hamper

The group will consult with the DTI and other government departments on
policy and best practice.

Group member Sarah Aston, HR general manager at Manpower, said input from HR
will be vital because of its expertise in recruitment and employment patterns.

Lance Williams, HR director at EDS, also a panel member, said of 600
graduates applying for recent jobs at his company, only 24 per cent were women.

"It’s an unbalanced workforce and there is a huge talent pool [of
women] that has been directed elsewhere," he said.

Anne Cantelo, project director of e-skills at NTO, who will work closely
with the group, said the idea was to start a panel "who could move and
shake and get things done".

She said the group will meet with ministers every couple of months to
discuss government proposals.

By Quentin Reade

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