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back to article DTI poses perennial sci/tech problem

As the UK's political class tots up Tony Blair's scorecard, there's one area where New Labour hasn't made much progress: Whitehall still feels compelled to organise summits to ask how we can all turn the UK into the world's greatest knowledge econonmy. The earache has all stemmed from the Lisbon Agenda, which in 2000 held the …

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Anonymous Coward

I've said it before and I'll say it again

What these people are actually saying underneath all the bullshit is not that there's a shortage of science/tech workers but that there's a shortage of these workers willing to work for less than half of what they should actually be paid. Hint: If you want someone skilled in Apache, Oracle, Unix, Linux, Windows, Java, PHP, Perl etc. all at once, stick an offer of more than £16k a year under the wage field of your job offer - I know secretarial/admin staff with no special training (i.e. GCSEs and nothing higher) that earn £10k more than that.

Whilst personally money isn't my biggest motivator, I'd be more than happy in a research role looking into new technologies and so forth even if didn't pay too great it is most people's biggest motivator. Is it really any surprise that these IT graduates often don't end up in IT when they can come out of Uni and start at £17k in IT or instead go and start at £25k - £35k in a completely different job and field? Factor in student debts and you begin to see the real problem here.

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What's the question?

Is it:

a) How do we make UK companies own the largest share of the knowledge economy?

b) How do we make the UK be the no.1 marketplace of the knowledge economy?

c) How do we make the UK public/workforce the best equipped to benefit from the knowledge economy?

I suspect they have very different answers. I also suspect the DTI are missing the point - doesn't the knowledge economy bypass old-fashioned structures such as national identity?

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Anonymous Coward

Panic and Mayhem

The problem is deeper than Blair. The problem starts off with education and the schooling system, continues onto the effect that mass media and particularly television has on developing minds. The problem is further compounded by the lack of discipline and control in many schools, and then is further exacerbated by the social system which encourages single parenthood by dolling out cash to everyone dropping a sprog. Not to mention the social status implied by a whopping pile of ASBOs.

The entry level skills being farmedout to other countries means that fewer entry level jobs are available locally, which means that on the job training has been impacted. Couple that with employees fear of people leaving a company, skills are being relegated "specialised" status and although this may not be the case everywhere, it is happening a lot.

The new laws about contracting for work, absolutely screws over anyone who does IT contracting and further restricts the market because now these roles will now be held by permanent staff who will be pigeon holed so that they do not gain too many skills and therefore leavie the company. Highly skilled contractors will just up their fees, so who benefits?

The professionalism in IT campaign is an absolutely pointless piece of work that has painted the typical techie as a geek and has actively encouraged slander. Many management positions are filled by people who started off as these "geeks".

It is my opinion that professionalism is something that a company either has or it hasn't. If their IT department is unprofessional, chances are that is how the whole business is run. But nobody ever shouts that out in these professional development seminars.

I sometimes feel like bad news is only delivered when there is a business advantage to be gained. This is fine if its in commerce, but unacceptable in government and public sector.

Not sure about the IT salaries. They are still very good depending on where you get in. IT is a wonderful industry and is filled with interesting concepts and loads to learn. I have always enjoyed working with the different products, learning them in depth. I just really feel like getting out of it when I read the political rubbish and half baked solutions to problems that need to be addressed at a far deeper level. Although IT is different, it is essentially the same as any other field.

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yes, the money - but whose opinion is this?

"Chaired by Microsoft with the DTI and several key industry representatives..."

Forget the long spoons - looks who's hosting the party.

While I couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed in "I've said it before and I'll say it again" I worry that there are other agendas at work here. Should we allow corporate bodies (particulary foreign and multi-nationals) to have a controlling hand in steering education policy?

I'm sure every experienced IT professional has at least one story about the industry certified programmer/operator/administrator who demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge outside the approved curriculum. But at the moment, the primary and secondary education systems only seem able to provide ICT facilities by jumping in to bed with a single vendor.

Education, at least within schools, should equip our children with lifetime skills and a basis for making value judgements. I would rather my children were denied access to ICT than exposed to a corporate driven regime.

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