Government innovation plan omits IT skills

Government innovation plan omits IT skills

Focus on computer science needs to be greater, says IT industry trade body

The IT industry has attacked the government's latest innovation strategy for not encouraging the development of IT skills.

The Innovation Nation white paper - published yesterday by the Department for Innovation, Universties and Skills (DIUS) - aims to encourage research and development in UK companies. But the plan focuses on science and engineering to the detriment of IT.

Although technology skills can be developed later in life, the industry would be more effective if schooling started earlier, said technology trade association Intellect.

"Although the technology industry draws on skills from across the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines, more emphasis needs to be placed on technology skills," said Intellect in a statement.

Intellect is particularly concerned that the Higher Education Funding Council for England has excluded computer science from the "strategically important vulnerable subjects" classification.

The government says there are a sufficient number of students studying computer science.

But demand for computer science graduates still outstrips supply, and more encouragement is needed, according to Intellect.

"These skills are important because it is technology that underpins much innovation, as the Innovation Nation paper itself states," said the statement.

A further anomaly in the education system means that there is no funding for those who wish to take computer science as a second degree – despite this funding being available for all other STEM subjects.