Local authorities could face an IT staff crisis as bad as that of the 1970s, according to the Society of Information Technology Managers (SocITM).
SocITM spokesperson Brian Westcott said cuts in grants from government had put considerable pressure on councils to shrink their staffing levels. ?There is also strong pressure within IT departments to deal with large numbers of issues including the Year 2000 and the single European currency,? he said.
Many local authorities had switched to client/server systems and IT staff had therefore had to be retrained.
?All this has led to a skills and staff shortage which is causing considerable problems for councils and can only get worse,? Westcott said. ?Particularly badly hit are those councils that are setting themselves up as unitary authorities and are finding themselves with little money and few staff,? he said.
?We are looking at the shortage of skilled staff reaching those levels we experienced in the 1970s,? he added.
During that period, council IT departments failed to pay staff to levels offered by private companies, and a massive number of skilled employees drifted to the private sector. ?Councils have to take steps now to avoid any future chaos,? Westcott said.
SocITM believes that more than #600 billion is required to convert ageing local authority systems so they can function after the Year 2000.
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