Last updated: 17.10.13

Home-grown IT skills 'central' to a healthier economy

Equipping the nation's workforce with improved IT skills is crucial to boosting the UK's economic situation, one recruiter has claimed.

Neil Lafferty, group sales director at Bright Purple Resourcing, said in an article for Channel Pro that the uncertain climate in Britain over the past five years has caused many companies to hold back on investing in IT training, and this has also put young people off applying for jobs in the sector.

He emphasised the importance of developing home-grown IT skills - particularly at the higher value end of the market - if the country is to take advantage of the enormous economic opportunity offered by the digital industry.

According to Mr Lafferty, a greater number of small and medium-sized enterprises need to get involved with schools, colleges and universities and sponsor youth development programmes encouraging talented individuals to enter the IT sector.

He added that these educational institutions must also do their bit in promoting the benefits of a career in IT, particularly in high-growth areas.

"We need universities and colleges to get more engaged with business, reaching out beyond just large companies and working with more SMEs within their local community," Mr Lafferty explained.

The recruiter pointed to two recent reports that emphasise how crucial digitally skilled individuals will be to the economic future of the country.

One study commissioned by O2 found that the UK needs 750,000 more workers trained in IT by 2017 if it wants to capitalise on a £12 billion economic opportunity.

Meanwhile, research published by e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for business and IT, indicated the nation's digital sector needs just 300,000 of these employees by 2020 to reach its maximum potential.

Although the two reports contradict one another, the message of both is clear - IT training is becoming central to enhancing the economic performance of our country and companies can no longer afford to ignore it in favour of other investments.