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Home > News > July 2004 > 12-Jul-2004

e-skills UK launches national IT assessment tool

IT skills are a basic requirement of employment - not just a skills issue. That was the message Larry Hirst, Chairman of Sector Skills Council e-skills UK, and Chief Executive IBM UK and Ireland, delivered when he launched e-skills Passport last week as part of the Department for Education and Skills' 'One year on from the skills strategy' event in London.

Passport is a web-based, self-assessment tool which has been developed by e-skills UK, the organisation responsible for IT skills development, along with e-skills UK board member companies such as Hewlett Packard, Ford Motor Company, BT, IBM, T-Mobile, Accenture UK, Inland Revenue and Sainsbury's. The tool is currently being piloted by BT, and several other large and small organisations from both the public and private sector.

The National Employer Skills Survey (NESS) forecasts that on average, one third of professional employees will require will require IT user skills of a high or intermediate standard over the next three years. NESS respondents identified skills shortages as having a significant impact on their businesses including adverse affects on business bottom lines, lost orders and increased operating costs.

Hirst said: "e-skills Passport has been developed in response to the growing importance placed on excellent IT skills. With 21 million people using IT in their work, and nine out of ten new jobs requiring IT skills, they are increasingly a basic requirement of employment. That's the bottom line.

"We know that companies invest about £50 billion in IT annually, and yet all too often we fail to realise the benefits of that investment by not training people to use it. e-skills Passport will allow us to assess the skills we and our workforce have, gain guidance on appropriate training and qualifications and reap true returns on training investments. Without Passport we risk our employability as individuals, our profits as companies, and international competitiveness as a country"

According to NESS, 30 per cent of respondents with skills gaps are looking to improve general IT user skills. However, only two per cent of NESS respondents specifically said they had provided or arranged for their staff to receive IT training in the past 12 months.

Passport is designed to help employers to assess workforce skills, analyse IT training needs, and to allocate training budgets more effectively based on employer-agreed definitions of IT skills - the IT User Skills Framework. It provides individuals with a personal record of IT experience and allows them to set improvement goals and a personal learning plan. It will also allow individuals, and employers, to match current IT skills against requirements in specific job roles within industries.

e-Skills UK CEO Karen Price believes Passport will clarify training needs. She said: "There are currently about 750,000 IT courses and over 5000 qualifications that employers either have to assess when recruiting, or choose between when training their staff. I think this has led to a training inertia. Employers know they need to do something to raise their workforce's IT skills to match the priority status IT has gained within their organisations but they are unsure of where to start.

"Passport will give employers and individuals an IT history of progression - something never previously available. It will demonstrate to them the skills they currently have, and identify where they need to be raised. Passport will become the link between the need for IT skills and implementation of IT training. We believe Passport will become the de-facto standard for IT user skills improvement."

e-skills UK is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for IT, Telecoms and Contact Centres. It is the industry-driven organisation responsible for developing the quality and quantity of professional skills in these sectors. In addition, e-skills UK also had the remit to improve general skills in IT in the UK. IT skills are currently required in nine out of ten new jobs, and are used by more than 21 million UK employees.

For more information on e-skills UK please visit: www.e-skills.com

For more information on Passport go to: www.e-skillspassport.com

Training Reference is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

The National Employer Skills Survey

The National Employers Skills Survey 2003 (NESS) was commissioned by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in partnership with the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA) and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES). It refers to companies in England. 72,100 interviews were conducted with a representative sample of employers in England across 27 industries.

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