E-Skills weighs benefits of national IT academies

E-Skills has not ruled out establishing national academies as a way of improving the soft skills of new recruits and promoting the IT industry as a potential career.

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E-Skills has not ruled out establishing national academies as a way of improving the soft skills of new recruits and promoting the IT industry as a potential career.

The strategy director of the sector skills council, Margaret Sambell, said: “We are starting to have conversations about whether such an approach could work.”

Sambell was speaking against the backdrop of of national academies being rolled out by the financial services and manufacturing and engineering skills sectors.

The academies launched by SEMTA, the manufacturing and engineering skills council, have a specific remit “to train the trainers”, according to Lynn Tomkins, the council's UK director of operations.

Tomkins said this was to ensure the trainers had recent and relevant experience of what was happening in industry.

In the financial services arena, the purpose of national academies is to assist the retail banks to recruit and train into employers in the regions. Provincial banks struggle to attract and retain against the greater recruiting clout of their counterparts in the City of London.

Sambell said that E-Skills had a unique challenge because of the high level entry into the IT profession.

“National academies and government tend to be lower level interventions” she noted. However, they could play a role in boosting soft skills, she said.

While E-Skills decides where it stands in relation to such academies, the government's new skills secretary John Denham has called for businesses to share responsibility with education providers in order to train employees.

The Leitch Review, published last December, warned that the UK faced a bleak future and needed a higher-value economy to compete with India and China.

Denham warned that employers could not "simply look to someone else to take the responsibility for raising the skills of the people who want to work for them".

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