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Move to boost young people taking up IT

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e-skills UK, the employer-led Sector Skills Council for IT and telecoms, is launching a drive to transform the attitudes of young people to IT-related education and careers.

Supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the ‘Revitalise IT’ initiative brings together employers, universities and schools to help prepare the UK’s future IT professionals.

Karen Price, CEO e-skills UK said: “The IT and Telecoms sector makes a vital contribution to the UK’s long term prosperity in an increasingly competitive global economy. The IT professional workforce in the UK has almost doubled in the last 12 years: from 550,000 to around one million today, and will continue to grow strongly over the coming decade. At the same time, every year fewer young people choose to undertake an IT-related degree, with a drop of around half (46 per cent) since 2001. There is a mismatch here that urgently needs to be addressed.”

The drive involves a two-pronged approach, with ‘AmbITion’ focused on changing attitudes and stimulating demand among young people for technology-related degrees and careers. This will include a special emphasis on widening participation in higher education and improving the gender balance in IT.

The ‘Catalyst’ programme will be focused on degree curricula, promoting the capabilities graduates develop from different types of IT-related degree courses and encouraging curriculum development in areas of industry growth.

Partners already committed to ‘Revitalise IT’ include Vodafone, Microsoft, LogicaCMG, the BBC, Cisco, Apple, Accenture and John Lewis, and the University of Kent, University of Greenwich, University of Reading, Oxford Brookes University, University College London and City University London.

This Revitalise IT initiative will focus primarily on London and the South East of England and will run from 2007-2009. It is expected to involve more than 40,000 students. It is hoped that success will stimulate and lead to similar programmes in other parts of the UK.

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