UK set to climb the IT skills ladder?

Europe is facing a growing shortage of people with IT skills, according to research that also predicts that the UK will rise to the top of the skills league in the next three years

The UK is facing a growing skills gap and by 2008 will be short of around 40,000 people with networking technology skills, according to a study published this week.

But according to the same research, conducted by IDC and commissioned by Cisco, over that same period the UK will jump from its current position of tenth in the European league of IT skills to first.

Far from being a reason to be cheerful, the Cisco/IDC research shows the UK's position is only improving relative to the rest of Europe. Across Europe, the survey forecast a shortage of around 500,000 people with networking technology skills by 2008, which represented a skills gap of 15.8 percent. The gap in the UK will be 9.2 percent by 2008.

"The position of the UK may look OK compared to Europe but it is very deceptive," said Nick Watson, managing director for enterprise for Cisco in the UK & Ireland.

"The right skills are in short supply. The other countries, outside the EU, are already doing something this and this [report] is a wake-up call for us to do act," Watson added.

According to IDC, demand for IT skills will outstrip supply by more than 20 percent in one in three of the 31 countries surveyed by IDC by 2008, with Eastern European countries facing the biggest shortfalls.