e-Skills release UK IT manifesto

Major IT employers have partnered with skills council e-skills UK to launch the ‘e-skills Manifesto’, which calls for more investment in technology skills.

The manifesto hopes to improve productivity in the UK by increasing the ability of organisations in all sectors to use technology. e-skills UK released research to show that 110,000 new people a year will be needed to enter IT careers.

Twenty-three companies from a range of industry sectors are supporting the manifesto, including Cisco, Logica, HP, IBM, Accenture, Cable & Wireless, BA, National Grid, UBS, Sainsbury’s and Whitbread.

Four recommendations were made in the manifesto, including reforming IT-related education, helping companies innovate and increase productivity, ensuring government policy reflects the strategic importance of technology and incentivising all individuals to increase their e-skills.

The manifesto pledges to support sector-backed work to transform the attitudes of young people towards IT. There is a particular focus on girls in this respect, to address the gender imbalance in the industry, where just 17 percent of IT professionals are female.

Changes are also needed to the IT-related school curriculum, to make it more exciting and relevant for students, to encourage them to pursue IT in academia and industry. The manifesto recommends that industry gets involved in this, and in providing access to industry expertise and resources for IT teaching.

It also encourages industry to get more involved in higher education, by extending the delivery of work-based programmes, and co-investing with government in higher level technology skills through the National Skills Academy for IT.

Another suggestion made by the manifesto is the creation of a system to nationally and internationally recognize organisations and individuals that use technology to innovate and increase productivity in the UK.

In addition to this, it recommends the provision of incentives for small companies to invest in IT for their business, and also providing practical help for smaller companies.

Larry Hirst, chairman of IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa and chair of e-skills UK, said:

“Partnership between employers and government is the key to making sure the UK has the technology skills it needs.

“We also need to make employer-backed IT degrees central to the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] agenda, and help more smaller companies to exploit and innovate through IT.”

Meanwhile, the manifesto said that 92 percent of new recruits in any industry are required to have skills in the use of IT.

It therefore wants to address the problem of people potentially becoming socially excluded if they do not have these basic skills by supporting development of e-skills amongst groups including older workers and lower skilled individuals.

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