IT skills plan targets employers, universities and schools

The employer-led agency e-skills UK has unveiled a nationwide plan to train more people in IT to close the UK’s productivity gap.

The Sector Skills Agreement for IT is a three-year action plan which will involve:

  • Increasing the skills of 750,000 people who use IT in their day-to-day jobs through a vocational qualification called ITQ which is linked to an employer assessment tool called e-skills Passport
  • Creating the first-ever IT employer-designed degree at the universities of Reading, Greenwich, Central England and Northumbria by September 2005. The Information Technology Management for Business honours degree will be rolled out to 17 more universities before 2008 and to 1,000 undergraduates each year
  • Encouraging 150,000 girls, aged 10-14 years, in 3,600 schools in England to consider a career in IT through an out-of-school programme called Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G). Currently, only one in five IT professionals in the UK are women.

e-skills UK, which is responsible for developing IT skills, has developed the action plan following research which demonstrated that one-quarter of British businesses lack employees with the everyday IT skills to do their jobs.

One-third of companies with vacancies for IT staff also find them hard to fill, and of these companies, more than three-quarters (76%) said they had to delay the development of new products and services.

Education and skills secretary Ruth Kelly said a long-term strategy to ensure broader, deeper and ever-evolving IT skills across all sectors of the economy is fundamental to the UK’s productivity and competitiveness.

“The Sector Skills Agreement for IT sets out the action plan, developed with employers, training providers and government which will provide business with the IT skills needed to make a difference to our prosperity,” she said.

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