Liberal Democrats education spokeswoman Baroness Sharpe yesterday raised a formal question in the House of Lords asking whether the numbers currently being trained in IT systems support in the UK were adequate.
Baroness Sharpe said the collapse of the Government’s Individual Learning Accounts scheme – used and abused by rogue IT training organisations – had led to inadequate support for those seeking NVQ Level Three qualifications.
‘It is estimated that, next year, for example, there will be 280,000 unfilled vacancies in the industry. We desperately need to train people up to that level. In schemes such as Learn Direct, the Government has been addressing only the need at level 2, which is GCSE equivalent. How does the Government propose to meet this very serious and critical skills shortage?’
‘What we want to do is probe the government’s position: that if there is a shortage, it is up to the industry to train more people themselves. People who fund themselves are having to pay fees of £3,000 or so for Level Three. Those who do fund themselves ought to get tax relief,’ Sharpe said.
Responding, Government spokesman for education and skills, Lord Davies of Oldham, said that the supply of specialist IT practitioners was forecast to meet foreseeable demand, although he went on to warn that the market was dynamic and subject to fluctuation.
‘Although I recognise that we need to increase performance and the numbers coming through in this field, there is clear indication that the number of students enrolling and succeeding in these courses is increasing.’
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