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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
IT skills gap 'getting wider'
Girls working on computer at school
More pupils are gaining qualifications in IT

Workers' information technology skills are falling further below the demands of business, a survey of employers suggests.

Research by the training group e-skills showed 57% of bosses believed their IT staff required additional learning, up from 46% last year.

However, hope of improvement came from a continued increase in the number of secondary school pupils studying the subject.

More than 135,000 people took an IT-related GCSE in the academic year ending in 2001, compared with 100,000 two years previously.

Regional imbalance

E-skills also found that previously under-served parts of the UK were set to increase the number of workers with computer skills.

Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North East, the North West, Yorkshire and Humberside and eastern England could expect to see a rise of between 0.5% and 4% over the next year, it said.

However, an expected drop in previously strong regions balanced this, with employers in London and the South East expecting their IT staff levels to drop by 2.5% and 7% respectively.

This would mean the loss of more than 24,000 jobs.

The e-skills report calls for programmes to help employers increase the skills of their IT professionals.

It asks for stronger links between colleges and employers and a continuing increase in the number of young people studying IT to GCSE and A-level.

E-skills has previously warned of a gap between the expertise taught at school and that required by employers.

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