Highways Agency hit by .Net skills shortage

A government agency's IT migration has highlighted the problem of finding IT staff with the right skills

The Highways Agency has identified a key skills gap in the UK after it tried to find staff with .Net skills to ease its migration onto the platform.

The Agency, which is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the road network in England, is moving its entire IT system onto Microsoft's .Net platform.

Denise Plumpton, IT director at the Highways Agency, told ZDNet UK the Agency was having trouble finding any .Net-skilled staff at all.

"We're moving to .Net and there is not a huge number of skilled staff out there," Plumpton said.

With no .Net skills of its own, the agency needs to source staff in order to complete its migration to the .Net platform.

"We didn't have any .Net skills in-house, and we wanted to move more quickly on to the platform," Plumpton explained. She added that the Highways Agency tries to train and develop in-house skills rather than turning to outsourcing, with .Net skills in such short supply it had to look for contract workers instead.

This skills shortage highlighted by The Highways Agency could threaten businesses across the country.

Industry experts have warned that the demand for developers skilled in .Net and Java is already outstripping the amount of qualified staff available. Some attribute this gulf to the current outsourcing trend, while others have blamed a lack of in-house opportunities and training.

Project managers are also in short supply, according to Plumpton, who also blames lack of in-house opportunities and under investment for the shortage.

ZDNet UK questioned a cross-section of senior IT staff about their views on the UK's skills market. Many reported that they had experienced difficulty recruiting staff with the abilities they need.


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