Leading IT vendors have committed £2.4bn for employee training, as part of a three-year action plan by industry body e-skills, to ensure the UK is skilled up for growth.
The Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) for IT has been backed by IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle, EDS, Cisco, Accenture, Fujitsu and T-Mobile ? along with the heads of IT from companies in other sectors.
Employers have also committed to transforming the attitude of girls to careers in IT through the Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) programme. With a matched funding commitment of £22m, employers have influenced content development, donated software, and will directly support up to 3,600 schools across England.
The SSA for IT also includes the development of an IT Diploma for 14-19 year olds, as well as offering a new degree, called ITMB, that develops the mix of technical, business, interpersonal and project management skills demanded by careers in IT.
Larry Hirst, chief executive, IBM UK, and chair of e-skills, said: "It is essential for the UK's continued prosperity that employers, educators and government unite on a coherent strategy to transform the IT skills landscape. The SSA for IT provides the vehicle to do exactly this."
Duncan Mitchell, vice president and managing director UK and Ireland, Cisco, said: "Cisco will be sending employee volunteers in to help support CC4G, will be giving work placements and supporting the delivery of the new ITMB degree. I urge other employers to do the same."
Nick King, chief executive at VAR Apex, said there is definitely a skills shortage. "A few years ago there was a high volume of highly skilled people, particularly with Cisco skills. Now there is a real lack of trained Cisco individuals so we have to pay more for those that do exist."
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