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Too many awards spoil IT industry

A RADICAL shake-up is needed to simplify the "plethora" of information technology awards, below degree level, a new report warns.

At least 100 bodies offer more than 800 qualifications according to the information technology, communications and electronics skills strategy group. In its interim report, the group, which is working with the Qualification and Curriculum Authority, concludes that the system needs simplifying to ensure that learners and employers understand what the awards certify.

The group is also expected to recommend a rationalisation of the bodies representing the sector in its final report in September. There are five national training organisations, seven professional bodies and five trade associations.

The millennium bug and the euro has boosted demand for IT workers and employment growth is expected to remain healthy as organisations return to projects put on the backburner. Therefore, the group says, it is vital that the number and quality of students who enter the industry rises. The report says that it is also important to boost FE courses and modern apprenticeships to increase the numbers qualified to NVQ level 3 or above.

Universities' ability to prepare students for such jobs is questioned: there are 265,000 IT graduates but only 100,000 work in the industry.

The report stresses the need to improve the image of careers in the sector, particularly to women. "The number of truly technical jobs in IT is quite small. In many cases what is needed are skills in teamwork, infleuncing, oral and written communication and intellectual ability," it says.

The skills strategy group, part of the National Skills Task Force, is chaired by Alan Stevens, director of Electronic Data Systems. Its other members represent the industry, education, industry groups and government agencies.

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