The government is expected to approve the appointment of a skills czar to lead the battle against skills shortages in the IT industry, writes Dan Sabbagh. The move follows last week's publication of a 16-point action plan to be implemented by a new skills council, which will be made up of existing training, trade and professional bodies. EDS's managing director for government accounts, Alan Stevens, who led the government-appointed taskforce that drew up the plan, said: 'We want to get to the point where there is no more talk of skills crises.' Stevens said he personally would not be in the running to chair the council. He expects another industry figure to be appointed by Christmas. Stevens' group was formed in January at the request of the government, to relieve a skills shortfall estimated by the British Computer Society (BCS) at 5-10% of the UK's IT workforce. Key recommendations are: - the creation of a single national industry skills council, merging five existing industry training organisations. This would include representation from professional bodies such as the BCS and trade groups such as the Computing Services and Software Association - the establishment by the council of a national classification and forecast for IT skills requirements on a 'regular' basis - a high-profile nationwide campaign to improve the industry's image, particularly among women - greater co-ordination between industry and colleges of further education. All the action points have been accepted by the government. Eminister Patricia Hewitt said: 'The clear message from industry is that the countries best able to meet the skills needs of these sectors will enjoy a major competitive advantage.' Major employers, including Motorola, IBM, ICL and Microsoft, have backed the report's findings.
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