back to article Survey: Apprenticeships will fix IT skills gap

Get kids into apprenticeships. This was the message from British IT pros asked how to fix the tech skills gap in the UK. Over 60 per cent of IT workers questioned by by recruitment site CW Jobs believe that there is currently a skills shortage in the UK IT sector. Richard Nott, CW's website director, says that the lack of …


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While I myself broke into the world of IT with an apprenticeship (which, as a result of the indepentdent firm running it, I never completed) I'm not sure of how successful that plan would be now.

While I was working as a second line techie and indeed gaining invaluable work experience the pay was worse than jobseekers allowance (£80 pw)! Now back them we were booming and I did both my apprenticeship and a second office cleaning job but I might not have been so lucky had I tried now.

More financial support will be needed to make this viable with such a high cost of living.



are the reasons there's a skills gap. I was made redundant from a general IT and software support role (off-shored to India) over a year ago, but all the companies (over 500) I have approached want people who are already good at the role they have vacant. No one seems willing to spend money and train a potentially suitable candidate with the lacking skills.

On £65 JSA a week i can't afford to go and professionally learn C++ or Java programming*, and the little I learned on my HNC wouldn't even get my CV from an agency to the employer.

Short term solution fixation, no long term thinking :(

*or Enterprise level VMWare, or Citrix etc ad infinitum


Dood: maybe?

walk into your nearest best hope employer.

Say something like "Hi, I am here without an appointment and I want to get a job. I don't want to leave without getting a solid, firm opportunity - who do I need to see as a matter of urgency?"

Let's know how you get on

Anonymous Coward

@ NickyD

No, No, No, wrong word, BeanCounters!, the name of a subspecies very vaguely related to 'umans, is the word you want.

Definitions :-

Accountant - can ensure avoidance of tax, without evasion.

BeanCounter - knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.

Off-shoring - the practice of completely misunderstanding the cost of providing effective IT support.


Agile frameworks eh?

Another recruitment clown who doesn't understand what he's talking about



For as long as I've been in IT (some 25 years) in both "chimp" and CTO roles there has been this "skills shortage". It seems the only people telling us there is a problem is training companies and recruiters - ie people with a vested interest in scamming the public for useless courses or fictitious jobs.

Ask any of the current unemployed IT professionals whether there's a skills shortage!

Show me a company that can't get skilled staff (and I'm not talking about the poorly run ones who no-one wants to work for or pays peanuts or won't train their current staff)!

A big fat hairy elephant b*****ks to this survey. It's wrong.


Usual rubbish, coders != IT Professionals

Coders are not the only IT Professionals out there, yet seemingly every recruiter quoted by El Reg believes programming is the only game in town. Also every recruiter seemingly thinks the movie office space is an instruction manual not a parody.

Biggest problem with the UK economy - HR (return them to "wages"), lax immigration controls (why for years were we allowing hundreds of thousands of non EU candidates into the UK when 10+% of IT grads were unemployed and actively looking for training places), horrifically poor teaching at primary, secondary and in some cases tertiary level - caused in many areas by gender quotas, ethnic quotas and creating "teaching degrees" rather than study a subject then train as a teacher etc.

Also apprenticeships = easy way to massively depress wages to minimum wage levels (what you think they will continue to pay a salary??) then along come "competence cards" to lock out those without an "apprenticeship" (see construction industry to see how an industry got totalled - poorly skilled workers (joiners who can't cut straight, electricians without a clue about electrical safety, floors left a mess by plumbers etc etc), good candidates locked out, workers charged extortionately for little plastic cards with their "competencies" on them - no card, no coming on site (doesn't matter if you out qualify and have more experience than the other guy, don't have the course (of course run by the card issuer and places only given to employers to dish out to staff) then at best you get the lowest level card, essentially dogsbody)

They wonder why this country is going down the bog??? Too many bad managers, too much focus on "apprenticeships" than aptitude (notice how the rest of the world is expected to an apprenticeship but those born with a platinum spoon inserted will go on and do "internships" and just like pre mid 20th century, be fast tracked to the upper echelons while the rest of us are required to doff our caps),

This ship is going down and those "in the know" are fiddling away like Nero, while the economy crashes and burns.

Triple dip recession by 2014??


theres your problem right there!

clause 1 =

why for years were we allowing hundreds of thousands of non EU candidates into the UK when 10+% of IT grads were unemployed and actively looking for training places

clause 2 =

horrifically poor teaching at primary, secondary and in some cases tertiary level.

1 because of 2


nothing new here sadly, as a 'real' engineer - moving something a bit more weighty than notional zeros and ones around for a living, this kind of crap from management\govt is what's made british industry what it is today.... a fuck of a sight smaller than it should be.

when was the last time an industrialist took the economy to monte carlo and put it all on red?

Anonymous Coward

What's the difference between an apprenticeship and an entry level position?

The starting wages.

No potential employee comes fully trained for your specific needs. Get over it.


I know I have probably said this before

But the shortage is a shortage of what there has always been a 'shortage' of.. 22 years olds with 5 years experience in technologies that have been around for 1 year who'll work 70 hours a week for peanuts without answering back.



5 years experience in 1yr-old tech is HR slapping their "minimum requirements" stamp on a job position, which is half the problem to begin with...

HOWEVER, the job posting usually lists experience in A CRAP TON of various softwares and (sometimes) languages, which sometimes is mutually exclusive in a workspace (VMWare, KVM, and Xen for instance). Then, of course, is the wage of 25-35k/year. So very much peanuts.


To be fair - a lot of models have been used and a lot is reflected upon as being lacking.

One big problem is none have been enterprise culture focussed and all, whatever the initial motivation, turn out to be this is for me and my lot even if we have to put up with the trainees it brings dosh in and that dosh floweth to me :-) " (or along those lines if you know what I mean).

Germany and Japan have very successful systematic approaches in place but there again unlike UK those nations seem to think manufacturing and creating things is a worthwhile thing for a nation to do.

My take:

do an enterprise based approach in enterprise for enterprise with a couple of rules: is someone outstanding appears > elevate through an ad hoc framework to perceived greatness... (your not daft el reg - I am sure u can guess the rest and fill it fuller than I ever could?)

Anonymous Coward

India will solve it

Don't we (in the UK) just bring in the Indians? We bring them in through BT, via TechMahindra, give them visas to come to work in the UK, they stay with BTTechMahindra for a while, they then leave, go work for other major Telco's in the UK, then get 'indefinite leave to remain', they bring their wives over.. and hey presto...IT skills shortage solved and we indigenous people suffer for it!

You think this isn't happening? I can assure you it is. I know several people in my company that have followed this very route.


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The UK doesn't appreciate engineers, IT people. Society doesn't.

When I went to see friends in New York some years back, they were mega-impressed with the field in which I worked in, satcoms, and they introduced me to others and they all wanted to know what I did for a living, and were impressed; here in the UK, no-one apart from fellow engineers understands it or is remotely excited by it.

Being in engineering, IT you are looked down upon in the UK. And salaries are crap.

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Second that.

Can't vouch for the UK, but France, which I happily left, had the attitude that you couldn't be paid decent wages if you're "just a tech". No matter how good you are. You gotta become a manager, sales, project manager. Even an analyst.

Just. Don't. Code.

Now, I realize there are tons of so-so coders working for so-so shops. But, if your company truly wants to write good applications it has to employ talented coders. Not just good business people (who are necessary). Not just great marketers. Not just clever accountants. Nor even just talented architects and analysts.

Coders, because a team that includes a few clever programmers can get a lot more done more durably than a bunch of iffy developers pushed around by smarter non-coders. Ditto for sysadmins.

And strangely enough you ain't gonna get them if you keep on telling them the career path is to get the heck out of coding.

Canada and the US have a very different view, at least within my subset of the IT industry.

Anonymous Coward

IT and software development is one area where experience is unecesarry.

Graduates and offswhore workers save the UK billions in overinflated salaries for lazy people who sit on legacy code pretending that Pearls are better then Microsoft products, whatever the product.

I can only imagine that interns not jaded by memories of bugs and years of learning and development will be an even bigger success than offswhoring was and that by not requiring any salary at all these guys will build a bedrock of unbreakable code the like of which you could only dream of.

And I think that goes double for anyone currently recieving charitable funds in the UK and kicking out your UK guys in favour of the notably balanced and underinvested Indian economy.

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