Tackle skills shortage, urges government CIO

Tackle skills shortage, urges government CIO

Summary: Decline in graduates entering IT careers is causing a shortfall in skills and this must be addressed, argues John Suffolk

TOPICS: Networking

The government's chief information officer has called for the IT profession to present a united front to combat a growing IT skills shortage.

"My belief is that any great business is underpinned by professionalism, and there is a decline in people going into the IT profession," John Suffolk told ZDNet UK. "The more we show people entering and leaving university just how fantastic the value created by technology is, the more people will want to come in."

The technology industry needs an influx of over 150,000 people per annum, according to e-skills UK and Gartner. But while there is an increase in demand, the number of people with relevant skills is static or declining. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of computer science graduates in 2005/06 was just 34,005. And government statistics show that only three out of 10 graduates with IT-related degrees go into the profession.

John Suffolk said that it is difficult for businesses to find graduates with relevant skills, for example, in systems architecture. "Deep enterprise architects are hard to find, and there aren't many in the world," said Suffolk.

Mike Rodd, the British Computing Society (BCS) director of external relations, said that IT is such a broad sector that even computer science graduates may not have gained the right skills. "There's a growing number of people with the right degrees, but the wrong skills for particular parts of the IT sector," Rodd told ZDNet UK.

Rodd said that there needs to be "serious leadership from government, from the major tech players, and from bodies like [the BCS]", to put out a positive message about the IT industry and encourage people to enter the IT profession.

The BCS is involved in various projects to raise the profile of IT as a profession, including schools outreach projects, such as the University of Southampton National Cipher Challenge, which encouraged school children to crack codes.

Topic: Networking

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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1 comment
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  • Smoke and Mirrors

    With increasing off shoring once you get the right skills, those that need you have found a cheaper overseas supplier. Just look at real salaries, I've known office workers getting paid more than the IT guy who is telling them how to use the system. Loads of stress, loads of continual study, lots to keep nearly up to date, and a messed up social life because you are staying late to meet a deadline or fix a server! Be an IT Professional if you love IT or are a code junkie but don't go there for the money. You might get lucky and do very well, but most I know, get an average living. People often don't appreciate what goes into the backend of this stuff, because they don't see it and even if they do they don't understand it. I've worked months on a database, and minutes on a desktop icon, guess which got the praise and got them excited?