A Computer Weekly survey shows the public sector to be one of the few areas of growth in the IT sector this year. Growth is estimated at about 13% a year until 2003, but this could be affected by a skills shortage. The quality and reliability of government budgets compared to the uncertainty of commercial budgets, were cited as growth factors. IT healthcare expenditure, where the government plans to spend £1.3bn on top of the £600m per year that it spends now, was singled out.The National Computing Centre estimates that there is currently a shortage of around 50-70,000, skilled IT practitioners in the UK. In its newly published ‘Best Practice Guide to IT Skills – Recruitment and Retention’ it emphasises that the shortage is of people with the right skills, not a shortage of IT practitioners. A factor contributing to the shortfall is that the percentage of women in IT has dropped from 29% in 1994 to 18% in 2001.
A weakness in IT project management skills has been revealed by the Office for Government Commerce who carry out ‘Gatway’ reviews at the five critical stages of major central government projects to stop disasters before they happen. Reviews are carried out by a pool of some 200 specially trained experts who have found that three quarters of projects require remedial action.