Report on successful IT enabled business change – But warns of long term IT graduate shortages

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Friday, November 17, 2006 - 10:13 GMT Jump to Comments

The British Computer Society has added a note of caution to today’s National Audit Office report on Successful IT Business Change in the light of an alarming downturn in computer science graduate projections which, BCS warns, could imperil long term success for the nation’s expanding IT economy.

Although BCS has warmly welcomed the report, which it believes has added a much needed fillip to IT’s negative media image by spotlighting genuine programme successes across both private and public sectors, it is also issuing a stark warning: Britain is fast falling behind its global competitors in generating both the interest and enthusiasm needed to persuade young people to study computer science or pursue a career in IT. The problems may start with the way children are introduced to IT and computing in schools.

According to BCS CEO David Clarke, “The NAO report has rightly attributed successful IT project completion to a new and growing recognition by IT professionals of the importance of senior level management engagement; few of whom fully comprehend IT. This is very much in line with the BCS’s IT Professionalism programme which has been successfully promoting greater engagement between the IT profession and the board room led business process.

“Senior management understanding and support for the BCS IT Professionalism programme has already led to nearly fifty UK corporates within the last six months choosing to partner BCS through our corporate membership scheme in assisting their respective IT departments to pursue relevant IT service management skills.

“Yet our academic membership, including nearly all the heads of computer science at British universities, are predicting that the growing demand for skilled IT professionals will be frustrated by a 25 per cent shortfall of computer science graduates by 2009

“The future success of the British IT economy, particularly in the Nanotechnology and Biotechnology sectors will rely on the delivery of computer science graduates. The UK is not delivering these with the threat of a major skills gap opening in our thriving IT industry within five years which will impact severely on our economy”.

Leading computer science academic Professor Nigel Shadbolt, President of the BCS said, “Data collected suggests that the year-on-year reductions affecting the number of students studying computing within higher education will continue until at least 2009.

“This will have an impact on the numbers of qualified graduates entering the employment market over the coming years. It will also have an impact on the UK economy which will be felt by companies large and small. Large companies may be able to re-direct their creative work overseas. Small companies, traditionally hiring locally, may find that they are unable to recruit staff necessary to develop their businesses at a cost they can afford.

“Similarly, public services will be hit more heavily than private companies. Postgraduate numbers are now showing a similar decline. Nothing can now halt the decline in the number of computing graduates through to 2009. We need to introduce children at school to the excitement of computing and information technology in the age of the Web. Action is required now to reverse the decline from 2010 onwards”.

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