School representatives meeting industry at this week's Bett education technology show say that IT suppliers must work more closely with schools to beat the skills shortage.
Simon Harbridge, chief executive officer at education specialist provider Stone Group, said his firm had gathered a group of professionals at the show to discuss the e-skills shortage -- and what they'd found was a need for greater collaboration.
"If IT employers expect skilled IT workers, they should not only invest funding into extra-curricular schemes but their time to mentor the teachers and inspire our IT leaders of tomorrow," he said.
While the new curriculum announced by the government was a step forward, those meeting agreed that deeper collaboration between IT firms, teachers, and students is needed, he indicated.
Miles Berry, principal lecturer in computing education at the University of Roehampton and board member at Computing At School, said: "What matters is the people you have worked with, projects you have worked on, and the portfolio of code you have produced, and this can all happen at school.
"This type of thing is what is going to impress university tutors and HR departments."
Harbridge (pictured) agreed, saying: "We very much rely on local recruitment from schools and colleges. However, we don't just look at formal qualifications."
Tony Parkin, an independent education technology consultant, confirmed it wasn't always about money when it came to helping students gain really useful experience and skills either.
"Sponsor and support things. Sometimes it's not about money, it's about time and mentoring," he said.
A study by the UK Council of Professors and Heads of Computing has suggested that demand for IT professionals will rise by up to 15 per cent over the next eight years, although the number of students aiming for jobs in the industry has halved since 2001.
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