by Mark Chillingworth

Re-skilling UK IT won’t be an easy take off

Nov 07, 20113 mins
IT Leadership

With the Eurozone financial crisisand daily reports of just how fragile and weak the west’s banking sector is, it’s hard for all of us to think of the long term. Especially when one of the challenges of the long term is to ensure we recruit and train the next generation of IT professional and leader. But lift your eyes from the financial sector gloom, hard I know when banks are central to the structure of capitalism, but as recent CIO stories on easyJet show there are new and exciting challenger businesses in the British economy, they’ve been through a down turn or two and remain core to our economy as we move into better times. 
Organisations like easyJethave always put IT at the forefront of their strategies and that has enabled them take on a market that at one time looked incredibly stable. As we see through this issue, that IT strength has developed the skills and careers of individuals who are now baking new IT ideas into totally different vertical markets. Or take the difference between what the real IT team at the George Eliot Hospital are doing when compared to the mess of the Department of Health. 
Read about the George Eliot Hospital IT here
Read the CIO Big Story on the NHS NfPIT demise here
So the challenge for everyone in the CIO sphere is to look long and hard at how we develop the next generation of IT worker. It’s an important question to ask ourselves. In recent years the sector has lost the lustre it had in my Sinclair and Acorn youth. But the current banking crisis, I believe, is all part of a need for skills to be readdressed. There is a wealth of IT talent working in and coming into the UK economy, as Mike Altendorf’s column demonstrates, as well as the news of a major Swiss corporation moving part of its operations into Edinburgh to capitalise on local talent. One major vendor struggles to fill roles, so we clearly need more. There are wider macro-economic issues facing the UK economy and IT. Wage inflation in the BRIC economies will reduce the competitiveness of outsourcing, the Eurozone crisis may rebalance the flow of EU labour forces against the UK, rising oil and commodity prices are already reshaping the manufacturing and services sectors to be more localised. A radically different economy will put new pressures on companies, healthcare providers and government and it will require a strategic rethink in how IT is delivered in organisations. 
As leaders we must deliver a new workforce if we are to avoid debacles like the NHS IT programme and for our community if it is to thrive.