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New report looks at IT skills needs


Hot on the heels of yesterday's report by the LSC on broadening access to e-learning, e-skills UK, the industry representative body for IT skills, has published a report detailing the current situation regarding the supply and demand of IT and telecomms professionals in the UK. The national report, e-skills Regional Gap - UK, is supported by a set of 12 regional reports, which provide an analysis of the ICT workforce, skills gaps and recommendations for the continuing development of a competent ICT workforce on a region-by-region basis.

The reports states that developing the skills of existing ICT professionals is a key priority. This could be achieved by increasing the number and suitability of Further Education courses and encouraging private training providers to deliver more courses in underserved regions. In addition, the report recommends developing strategies to counteract the uneven distribution of IT graduates towards London and the South East, and increasing the percentage of IT undergraduates who ultimately join the IT workforce.

To help achieve these goals e-skills UK recommends improving links between employers and Higher/Further Education to ensure that course content and qualifications are relevant to industry, and developing new entry points for the sector to facilitate broader recruitment practices. Employers are encouraged to address working practices to make the sector more attractive to new recruits and to take up staff training and development programmes.


- enabling Higher and Further Education establishments to develop and update courses more quickly to better reflect the changing needs of employers

- encouraging funding for training in small discrete packages that are more relevant to needs and easily accessible for the small and medium sized employer

- and creating more rounded degree content so that graduates are more work ready.


- The IT Workforce in the UK comprises 1.2M professionals

- The majority are employed in companies engaged in IT and Telecommunications (39%), 18% are in Public Services, 17% are in Manufacturing, 13% in Sales and Leisure, 8% in Business Services and 6% in Financial Services

- The South East of England (19%) and London (13%) account for the largest proportion of IT professionals. The North East (5%) and Northern Ireland (5%) account for the lowest

- The typical IT professional is male (67%), permanently employed and working full time

Key Findings

- Companies in all regions continue to grow their IT professional workforce. But they do so at a far slower rate than one year ago. The number of employers intending to downsize is negligible

- There is considerable regional variation with a much higher proportion of employers in the South East and Wales predicting growth (44% and 36% respectively) than the UK average (27%)

- Whilst skills shortages still exist the intensity of them is less. Particular skills shortages remain in development and operations roles. Software and systems developers are the hardest to recruit

- Skills gaps continue to constrain employers with 46% reporting a need for improvement. In the regions the South East and Northern Ireland were most likely to report a skills gap; Yorkshire and North East were least likely

- There has been an increase in interest in Computer Studies at both GCSE and A level over the last three years

- There has been an increase in the take up of IT related further education courses with all regions experiencing a net increase over the last four years

- Graduates entering IT employment have remained steady at 12,500 over the last four years. Less than one in five people who choose to study computer science at university join the IT workforce. Graduates are massively disproportionately attracted to London (attracting 20% of the national pool) and the South East (17%)

- Private IT training is a vibrant activity with hundreds of providers. There is a strong regional clustering of providers in hotspots (London and the South East).

TrainingZONE says We're not too sure that everyone would agree with the last bit: "Private IT training is a vibrant activity"! In fact there doesn't seem to be much here to encourage the beleagured private IT training provider. Last month's report by the e-learning Strategy Task Force recommended that IT skills training should be made freely available, in order to improve the general public's access to e-learning. But there and here the emphasis seems to be on colleges and learndirect. The phrase "funding for training in small discrete packages" above certainly points towards those. And no more news about ILA replacements... And employers keep being encouraged to train more, but are they going to get any incentives, or just words of encouragement?

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