back to article and pour £60m into IT skills gap

The government today announced that it will spend £30m to create a National Skills Academy for IT, in an attempt to train more of the workers UK employers are demanding. The Academy will be run by e-Skills, an technology industry lobby that will match public spening on the Academy. e-Skills pushes the line that training should …


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  1. Steven Raith

    Outlook training, or Exchange training?

    As per title, is this training people 'how to use a computer' in the simplest possible sense, or are we talking actual IT-centric workers - support, admin, management? With those figures [140,000/yr] I suspect the former...


    "The National Skills Academy for Enterprise is to be fronted by Dragons' Den millionaire Peter Jones, currently trousering large fees for appearing in BT ads that encourage small businesses to outsource IT."

    I'm sniggering at the irony and also the fact that I wouldn't trust BT to boil a kettle, never mind run a network remotely - unless of course, it is being run by my good friends up in the Thurso helpdesk, who are all excellent...

    Steven R

  2. Chika

    Hear that door a-swinging!

    But where is the horsey?

  3. Nano nano


    Yes, and they could fund it from all the extra IR35 income !

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Looks to me like they are looking for some just about trained, but cheap workers.

    There seems to be a large number of schools looking for IT tech support, almost all the time, they are offering about 7.50 an hour so are not going to get what they really need,. Plus the hapless recruit has to cope with some very poorly implemented infrastructure, continual fire fighting, and a very few very poorly behaved students and staff.

    Well is it any surprise that they get them in for a few months, and then they go into industry where they can probably do a bit better than several grand below the national average wage.

  5. Simon Painter
    Thumb Down


    More paper MCSEs flooding the job market.

  6. Hywel Thomas

    Other incentives ?

    Why not just subsidise Uni fees for courses relevant to employer needs ?

    Given the choice of a course that costs £2,000 with a likely job at the end or one that costs £4,000 and is worthless, I know which one I'd take.

    Or, as it's the employers that want these skills, why not get 'em to pay for it. IT Apprenticeships, straight out of school. Certainly the average support position doesn't need a degree as some proof of intellect. Just an HNC day release gubbins, like they did back when we used to make stuff and Wilt was teaching at the local Tech.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Might work if...

    They stop teaching people that computers don't stop and start with Windows Explorer, IE, Word, Excel and Powerpoint, perhaps start teaching some of the rudimentary basics of what's actually in that little grey box. Not asking that you leans assembler or even learn BASIC, but get to know more than "click-button and stuff happens".

    Oh and if you design web pages you are NOT an IT techie, you are a tech enabled graphic designer, OK? No, if you design web techs, like .Net, CGI scripts, then OK, your IT techie.

    I have a theory, when I was first introduced to computers at the tender age of 8, a Dragon 32 of all things, you had to use your imagination to fill in for the deficiencies, so you not only tolerated the limits of the technology but tried harder to push it, we've lost that somewhere along the way. I chose a career as a backroom Unix SA/DBA, I just love the feeling that you're somehow like the old train engineers, your "sitting" next to this enormous beast that needs care and attention, you're not a million miles away point-and-clicking commands at a GUI!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Absolute Tosh

    141,000 new IT workers every year, who thinks this up.

    Every good manager knows IT in the UK is dead, it's too expensive, off-shoring is the answer, we get a much higher calibre of workers in India, at much lower rates.

    Why should I employ a UK worker for £5.52 an hour when I can get one for less abroad.

    One hopes the academy will be teaching them how to respond to de-motivational speeches from their CEO's on what poor value they are and how much cheaper it is to off-shore. Most junior technical jobs are now off-shore in the big companies, only security rated stuff is immune to "Blended Delivery", so bring on the 12 Billion project for the squirrels, at least it'll all be in the UK, by UK citizens.

    Still at least I can look forward to a long career and a stupidly large salary because there's no-one left to replace me when I want to retire. A fact that has not escaped the notice of most senior technical staff I know.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To train more of the workers employers are demanding.

    Oh? They'll be training them to live in Asia on about £2 grand a year then.

    I'd be interested in the "drinking dirty water" module.

  10. Nic Brough

    Recommended reading

    I'd like to recommend some required titles for the library at the college

    * Distributing Clue to users

    * Windows NT User Obliteration

    * Box set of "The IT Crowd"

    * Conducting Black Operations in the Corporate IT Theatre

    Thinking about it though, if the government is serious about this, then the list should start

    * Security Engineering

    * The Art of Deception

    * A big poster of Bruce Schneier

    * A Ubuntu CD

  11. Mike Crawshaw

    @ Simon Painter ("Paper MCSEs")

    "Yay - More paper MCSEs flooding the job market."

    Optimistic, aren't you? I see them being more ECDL level. After all, if you're techy enough to know how to use Hotmail and E-Bay, then you're obviously a shoe-in as a DBA/dev/admin...

    Oy!! This is yet more nonsense!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Real techies do not use ubuntu. Next you'll be telling us to get a mac!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Typical meaningless government/corporate puff

    Yay, I just got this release to go up on our website. Wonder if they'll let me add in a link to the el-reg story, specifcally the section about BT outsourcing...

    Suprised el-reg didn't mention about the new NSA for the Power Sector in the pocket of E-On, EDF Energy and Scottish Power

  14. davenewman
    Thumb Up

    Not quite so clueless

    Actually, E-Skills UK have done some very detailed, region-by-region surveys of employer demand. The 144,000/yr are mostly either technically trained (HNC or higher) workers in the computing and telecommunications industry, or managers (degree level) who have to know enough about IT to manage it without falling for supplier confidence tricks or putting CDs of data in the post.

    These sorts of jobs have been growing at >3X the average job growth rate. Companies are taking on more local staff on top of the jobs they have been outsourcing, ever since 2003.

    However, 6th formers, like some of the posters, still think all the jobs disappeared in 2001, so they are not doing any degrees or HNDs which include computing (even as part of law or business degrees). So universities have been making their more technical staff redundant, and removing IT from business degrees.

    Whether the Academy can fix this is another matter. The ideas mentioned above on sponsorships and apprenticeships would do more.

  15. Sooty

    if employers want IT skills?

    Then they are just going to have to take the hit and actually train people!! No matter how good the university course, no-one will leave with anything like real world experience. There needs to be some sort of incentive for companies to take on people without the exact skillset and train them as needed, and i don't just mean sending someone on a day long c# course and then complaining when they can;t single handedly build your project.

    This is exactly the way the Indian offshoring companies work, they transfer knowledge between employees and quite often will have people learn on the job.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well I for one welcome our new

    C, Perl, C++, Python, Visual C++, Ruby, Erlang, Haskell, BASH, KSH, ZSH, SQL, PL/SQL, plpgsql, mysqlspl, Java, Lisp, JavaScript, Gofer, Modula2, HTML, CSS, XML, XHTML, SGML, Stackless Python, Forth, GAS, NASM, WX, GTK+, QT, Win32, Cobalt, DirectX, SDL, VimScript, UML, Postgresql, Sybase, MySQL, Oracle, SDL, Rational Rose, Apache, Yaws, Parrot, GWBASIC, PowerBasic, RCS, CVS, Pascal, Delphi, Subversion, C++ Builder, Lighttp, ActionScript, JBuilder, Iron Python, Ming, CSH, BDS, Unix, Linux, BSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, OSX, Solaris, OpenLDAP, OpenSSL, Exim, Postfix, Z notation, GCC, ASP, .NET, JSP, CGI, Pear, FCGI, Flup, Django, Webware, Sendmail, DNS Bind, Git, Mercurial, CISCO, SNORT, IPFW, IPF, PF, Netfiler, VBasic, Nessus, Wireshark, PHP, x86, MIPs, Motorla, Visual SourceSafe, Discrete Mathematics, SQLLite, ADA, SED, AWK, Neural Networks, PHPlib, ColdFusion, Beowulf, VLSI, OCaml, JoCaml, SAP, Genetic Algorithms, TCP/IP, OpenGL, Vim, Sockets, Emacs, Latex, Xlib, development overlords.

    And just imagine what they can do in the second term.

  17. Etienne

    Why not a skill academy for accountant and lawyers?

    If IT workers were in really short supply then IT jobs would pay more...

    Clearly its accountant and lawyers we are really short of... what we need is a skills academy to train more of them and thereby reduce the impact of their hefty pay packets on the economy...

  18. Thomas Baker
    Thumb Up

    @Simon Painter - you beat me to it.

    I think there's approximately a million IT workers out there currently who've answered an ad in the local paper, trying to get into an IT career, and have taken a crash MCSE course and have passed, wouldn't you know, with flying colours. And you give 'em two computers and ask them to lash the two together, share a file and a printer and they look at you gone out. The MCSE is truly one of the most meaningless exams/courses ever...not counting the CCNA of course; you can get that without ever having seen a Cisco router let alone connected to one. Colleges and degrees are no better. Practical, real-world, hands-on, scenario-driven training and practice are what's needed. But no, I'm sure this will be more wandering through the OSI model or some other such useless nonsense. The government getting involved in IT stuff, hmm, that sounds like a recipe for success...

  19. Steven Burn

    Employers don't want UK techies

    .... if they did, I'd have a job! (as would several hundred other UK IT folk)

    UK employers want CHEAP employment, which means outsourcing to places such as India. They don't give a crap whether or not they can actually do the job required, aslong as they come close to being able to do it at around a quarter of the cost.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    No reading on the clue-o-meter

    This would be the same government that introduced IR35, thereby driving away the same highly skilled, highly sought-after IT workers they say they need?

    Small piece of advice; if you want more people to work in an industry, don't try to up their tax burden whilst still insisting they get no benefits. (The old "is an employee when it comes to paying your taxes, but not an employee when it comes to things like sick pay, training, pension or holiday entitlement" thing).

  21. Aortic Aneurysm


    £5.52 an hour. I'd surprised anyone would work for less than minimu wage, Other that obviously johnny foreigner you get for even less.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    ha ha

    " BT was on hand to welcome the launch"

    Will they run the training course.

    Student: What happens if...

    BT: Blame the customer.

    Student: Even before we know the cause.

    Bt: Blame the customer.

    Student: But what happens if it turns out to be our hardware?

    BT: Blame the cutomer.

    Student: So it's always the customers fault.

    BT: Congratulations, your qualified.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article - 82% of teachers feel that school IT budgets are not enough

    A very interesting article and one backed up by a recent survey from value added distributor, Man and Machine Limited which reveal a stark warning to the Government – increase the budget for IT technology in schools or starve students of a brighter future.

    The survey which interviewed teachers, heads of year, ICT managers and an Ofsted Inspector working at secondary schools and colleges throughout the UK found that 82% of respondents believed that the current budget they received was simply not enough to prepare students for employment within key sectors such as IT and Computer Aided Design (CAD).

    This survey also revealed the challenges that school IT managers faced when purchasing IT equipment. The inability to provide up-to-date facilities that meet both teachers’ and students’ needs within current budgets was high up on the list of challenges.

  24. A J Stiles

    Re: Ubuntu

    People have actually heard of Ubuntu, and of all the distros it's the most similar to Debian (since it is basically just a customised Debian with a different GUI layer and a newer kernel; well, I'm not afraid of a bash prompt and I know how to compile my own kernels).

    So although I am a diehard Debian user (I outgrew Mandriva and its limited RPM repositories while it was still called Mandrake, and didn't think Gentoo was special enough -- though it's probably what I'd have chosen if I'd picked it before Debian), I always ask for kit that is known to work with Ubuntu. And then I can be fairly sure it's going to work with Debian.

  25. Steve B

    There is no skills shortage, just ....

    lack of intelligence in the management and agency hiring strategies.

    I have been about a long detailed time and MS/CISCO specific qualifications are just that. Never had the business need or requirement to get them but now I need a job, I can't get past the Agencies because the employer insists on the qualification.

    It is like Ferrari refusing to employ Lewis Hamilton because he has no previous experience of driving a Ferrari F1 car, and then complaining there is a shortage of F1 drivers.

    Unfortunately, the old maxim "rise to the limit of your ineptitude" has really taken root in this country and so it is easier to complain about a lack of talent and have someone else to blame than to actually understand the requirements and invest in people who can actually do the job.

    When I enquire about government IT training for the unemployed so I can get a job all that is available is the ecdl tosh..

  26. John

    Steve B has it spot on

    Having been unemployed for several years and a passing interests in all things computing, I have done several government sponsored courses, the last one being CLAIT in 2000. The computers were running Windows 95 along with ancient versions of Word, Access and Excel the whole qualification (the exam pieces) were completed in 45 minutes. The course itself was for 2 weeks, but I left in 2 days having completed the exercises as well. I mentioned to the rather nice lady in charge that she "was preaching to the converted" as I had already bought a PC and was learning the stuff as I went along. The absolute basics can be taught in about 10 minutes (ie moving the mouse around and opening programs) and it is this that govt thinks turns everyday folk into the next Bill Gates. I can knock up a basic website (should I want to) and did some webmaster work as a volunteer. Currently funded courses are getting a bit more meaty in terms of content due to commercial sponsorship, but cost comes into play. You can do £1000 Cisco entry course, but this excludes the £6000 CCNA part that employers want(?). This is a huge problem that cannot be sorted out easily due to bailouts of banks and other mess that the govt has created. As for AC's list above, very little of it will figure in any govt based programmes. Back in 1998 when our Mr B was Chancellor, he announced PC training for those that wanted it (ie myself), but, after costing MCSE, MCP courses (around 10 grand at the time) this quietly faded into nothing, until now. Hoohoo, £60 million.

    Those with knowledge of the stuff on AC's list can laugh at ECDL here:

  27. M Neligan


    "144,000/yr" ? That's the number of JWs that (they think) will go to Heaven. Coincidence? I think not. Now where did I leave that pamphlet?

  28. Matthew North

    @Thomas Baker

    I think I'm in a good position to comment here seeing as I'm stuck in an awkward spot.. I've just taken my first MCP and passed, and it seemed (to me, anyway) to have some sensible questions in it (70-271, Supporting users & troubleshooting XP.) I'm trying to get into a decent career but wherever I look I see ads for courses that cost a ton and promise the moon on a stick; the exam cost my employer £88! I'm happy where I am, learning to muck around with servers, network infrastructure and all the fun stuff, but I'm looking for meaningful qualifications that will actually count for something, instead of coming across as just another guy who's done an MCSE but doesn't actually know how to configure a TCP/IP connection. Can anyone recommend a good way of doing this? I'm aiming for getting certs as I actually learn about the subject matter by doing hands-on work, but am definitely open to suggestions.

    Stop icon because I jabber too much!

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