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Survey: Apprenticeships will fix IT skills gap

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Get kids into apprenticeships. This was the message from British IT pros asked how to fix the tech skills gap in the UK.

Over 60 per cent of IT workers questioned by by recruitment site CW Jobs believe that there is currently a skills shortage in the UK IT sector. Richard Nott, CW's website director, says that the lack of skilled coders is only going to get worse when the economic recovery finally kicks in and demand shoots up.

Looks like the industry reckons that work experience is the best way to stop the gap. About 28 per cent of the 1,366 IT professionals surveyed said that work experience was more important than improving IT education on their priority list. Only 18 per cent said that the government should invest more in IT degrees and training courses.

Richard Nott said: "I'll get 23-year-olds coming to see me, and they haven't done anything, haven't even had a part-time job at 23 years old. Experience is very important and apprenticeships are a good way for kids to get it.

"I'm loving the government apprenticeship programme. It brings more people into IT, especially people who haven't even done STEM [Science Technology Engineering & Maths] subjects, but there's no reason why they can't pick the skills up on the job."

A particularly acute shortage in the industry is the lack of coders with soft skills, Nott said, as Agile Programming takes over from older forms of project management and coders are required to talk to people as well as having the C# or SQL credentials.

"Agile frameworks are a game-changer in IT; anyone who has that experience will be in demand," said Nott. "The days of techies sitting in the corner bashing out code are gone. Then no one talked to them. Now they are expected to lead scrums and talk to colleagues all the time."

Separate new research from Dell and Intel supports the hypothesis that IT managers will increasingly become people managers rather than process overlords. They surveyed 8,000 computer workers worldwide for their Evolving Workforce study. Dell rep Bryan Jones said:

"The big change in the role of the IT manager is an HR one. It's using IT to get more out of people rather than asking how we get better processes."

See more on the survey here. ®

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