A 10-point manifesto to improve computer literacy in schools, business and the public sector was launched this week.
The Computer Software Suppliers Association has told the main political parties that dramatic action is needed in schools and adult education to help Britain to catch up with its foreign competitors.
Among the key proposals are: * set a national target to give all adults and children training in appropriate IT skills; * provide every teacher with computer skills to enable themto teach with computers; * increase spending on technology-based learning to 1 per cent of total spending on education.
The association also calls for a forum to be established to allow industry and academics to work together to improve research in the field.
The other six points cover encouraging competition, developing investment, providing support services for new IT companies, creating appropriate regulation, tackling security and privacy and urging the government to deliver services through IT.
Research by the National Council for Educational Technology shows that PCs in schools are usually kept far longer than in industry, where they are normally replaced after three years.
The NCET also reported that computers were only regularly used in school by 34 per cent of teachers in primaries and 56 per cent in secondaries.
According to the Real Time Club, a computing think tank, schools spend just 0.86 per cent of their budgets on IT, compared with financial services businesses which invest an average 15 per cent of their budgets.
The Association of Graduate Recruiters has also warned of a growing shortage of IT-trained graduates.