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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Workers in the UK could be given "skills passports" that would log their IT training and expertise.

It's just one of the ideas put forward by industry group e-skills UK to help improve the skill level of workers in the UK and narrow the much talked-about IT skills gap.

E-skills UK - which today received formal Government backing and finance to help develop IT skills in the UK - called on Government, employers and the education sector to sign to the "passport" programme making it available to the 21m people who currently use IT in their work.

If adopted, the passport would enable workers to keep tabs on the IT training they'd done, while employers would be able to use it to devise targeted training schemes for their workforce.

According to e-skills UK's own research, three in ten firms believe that when it comes to IT skills, their workforce simply isn't up to scratch.

Said Karen Price, CEO of e-skills UK: "In the UK, less than three quarters of the workforce possesses the necessary IT skills to perform their job; it's simply not good enough.

"The skills gap impacts the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the UK as a whole and means the organisations affected simply cannot fulfil their potential," she said.

Indeed, the whole ethos of the e-skills UK - which is backed by companies including IBM, Microsoft, BT and others - is about ensuring the UK's workforce has the right IT skills for the future. It's also about getting more young people into IT and casting off the image that IT is an unglamorous "geeky" profession.

Other plans to tackle the skills shortage problem is a call for e-skills UK's Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) to be rolled out nationally. The scheme - aimed at getting more women into IT - has already been hailed a success among the 100 or so schools currently piloting the scheme.

Other initiatives include more formal IT training for undergraduates of all disciplines so they can get a better understanding of how business and technology skills work together.

Echoing many of the sentiments expressed by those attending today's event Secretary of Sate for Education and Skills, Charles Clark said: "It is vitally important for our country that we really focus on this skills agenda and improve our performance across the board. The future prosperity of all of us - the whole of our society - will depend on this," he said. ®

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