Bosses slate staff skills' shortage

IT workers do not possess sufficient skills to do their jobs, according to half the UK's companies

More than half of UK firms claim their IT staff do not have the necessary IT skills to carry out their job, according to new research.

The survey, carried out by e-Skills UK, shows a substantial increase compared to last year, with the number of bosses who think their tech staff are underskilled rising from 46 percent in 2002 to 57 percent this year.

Currently topping managers' most-wanted lists are programming and operating systems skills.

Andrew Harvey-Price, head of research at e-Skills UK, puts the jump in underskilled workers down to restrictive resourcing budgets.

He said: "Employers have had to put less resources into training and make do with what they have. It's only now they're waking up and smelling the coffee."

But while the picture looks bleak for skills at the moment, the next generation of would-be techies are champing at the bit, with more students signing up to IT-related courses than ever before.

In the academic year ending in 2001, 135,000 students signed up to an IT-based GCSE course and over 27,000 to an equivalent A Level, with student numbers continuing to grow year-on-year.

Harvey-Price said the statistics will be a boon to UK industry across the board: "Whether students go into IT-dedicated companies or not, from sheet metal working to financial services, managers need to understand how to use and exploit IT. All those people will be up to speed on how to get the business benefit from technology."

The new breed of IT professional is also heading out of the capital and settling up north, according to the research. The region is set to see a rise in its IT workforce of up to four per cent, while the south will be experiencing a corresponding drop of around seven per cent.