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The vast majority of small firms demand that their IT staff should be properly qualified, but few know how skilled their technical employees are.

A survey commissioned by Microsoft found that 85 per cent of UK businesses think that IT qualifications are a vital requirement before allowing employees to look after computer systems. But 40 per cent of those polled admitted they did not know how qualified their IT staff were, with only 20 per cent ever enquiring about qualifications.

The study also found that 20 per cent of firms put no budget aside for developing skills, while 39 per cent never measure the value of training schemes.

Alex Keay, of Microsoft, said that firms view the skills gap as the reasons why IT implementations might fail. “It’s surprising that they aren’t more aware of what skills exist in the own organisations. It may be that businesses don’t know what qualifications staff need to have, or aren’t using the skills of current staff effectively.

“Investments in IT are business critical and it’s important that IT staff are properly trained for the job or these projects don’t deliver benefit to the business.

“This attitude directly contributes to the ‘failure’ of IT implementations. As 79 per cent of financial directors use technology to drive efficiency in the business, it would make sense to ensure that they are maximising the skills of staff to do this and measuring their investment.”

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