George Osborne's budget - not mindful of the skills gap

"We shouldn't be shy about identifying our successful industries and reinforcing them," said George Osbourne in today’s budget, as he outlined his plans to give British businesses "the self-confidence to: invest, expand, hire, innovate and...

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"We shouldn't be shy about identifying our successful industries and reinforcing them," said George Osbourne in today’s budget, as he outlined his plans to give British businesses "the self-confidence to: invest, expand, hire, innovate and be the best."

Whilst we never expecting tax breaks for outsourcing companies, any "deliberate strategy to create a more balanced national economy, where financial services are strong, but they are not the only string to our bow," will include a key role for our industry.

One vertical sector that is full of outsourcing did well today is computer game industry. Software developers all over Tech City will be rubbing their hands at the tax breaks they can expect to receive imminently. Many of these companies will also be eligible for a slice of the 20 billion of loans through the National Loan Guarantee Scheme. These low-interest government underwritten loans could drive Tech City on to even greater heights.

One area the government could have done more is the IT skills gap. The shortage of software developers needs addressing, and with 1.6 million in the dole queue, so many of them in their teens and twenties it makes sense to pull out all the stops to get them into IT.

Young people are highly computer savvy already - I wonder how many hours a day young unemployed people spend on Facebook? Given the opportunity, these people could fill the IT skills gap long-term. Not only would this reduce the jobless figures now, it would impact the need to send work offshore for skills reasons, which would be a coup for the UK economy.

In the outsourcing industry, we are acutely aware of exactly where the skills gaps lie, because that’s the work that ends up offshore. With the government’s support, we should use these young people to plug the void: get them off the sofa, and into IT training programmes.

The government could be doing more to support this. It is to be celebrated that there is a more pertinent IT curriculum being launched in September, but that doesn’t help the youngsters on the dole right now.

So tax breaks for IT suppliers creating jobs for young apprentices would have been welcomed. Let’s hope that IT SMEs taking advantage of the above loans have the capacity to take on youngsters, train them up and create a whole new generation of IT professionals.

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