nsa_logoThe strategic importance of the IT sector to the UK has been confirmed today, with the Government committing support for a National Skills Academy for IT.

Skills Minister Kevin Brennan today approved the Business Plan to create the Skills Academy, which was developed by e-skills UK in partnership with employers including Accenture, BA, BT, Cabinet Office, Cable & Wireless, Carphone Warehouse, EDS, IBM, Logica, Microsoft, Oracle, Qedis, Sainsbury’s, SFW, Vodafone and Whitbread.

The National Skills Academy for IT is being established by employers to address the development needs of IT professionals in the UK. Announcing approval of the business plan for the National Skills Academy for IT, Skills Minister Kevin Brennan said: “High level IT skills are essential to the future of Digital Britain and will help us boost our global competitiveness and productivity. This Academy will play a vital role in helping people gain those technical and professional IT skills necessary for a better future, both for themselves and the country.”

Today’s announcement has been welcomed by employers across the sector. Peter Butler, Director of Learning at BT Group Plc, said: “The approval of the Business Plan for the National Skills Academy for IT is a significant step in achieving a highly skilled, mobile and confident body of talent which will help the UK win the global battle for competitiveness and productivity. As the UK’s largest employer in the IT and Telecoms industry, with a diverse workforce of more than 100,000 employees, we are pleased to be supporting the National Skills Academy for IT. It will bring value to companies of all sizes by making more widely available the type of high quality learning and industry-valued qualifications that are needed to maintain the vitality of the UK’s technology workforce.”

Karen Price, Chief Executive of e-skills UK responded to the announcement, saying: “The National Skills Academy for IT offers a unique opportunity for employers to take collective responsibility for the skills and accreditation of the IT workforce. I believe this will play a major role in helping the UK become a world leader in IT in the coming years.”

Paul Coby, CIO and Head of BA Services, said: “Almost everything we do in British Airways to provide great customer service and operate a safe and efficient airline is supported and enabled in some way by technology systems. BA has also led the way in providing online services with ba.com. So the skills of our IT professionals are crucially important to our existing business and to our future development. We intend to work with the National Skills Academy for IT which will enable our IT professionals to gain external recognition for their skills and will help them in their IT career development. So I welcome the approval of the Business Plan and I will continue to support it in helping to deliver relevant skills for our IT professionals, who are core to the future success of our business.”

Small businesses have also welcomed the boost to technology skills. Steve Elliott, Director of SFW, an IT consultancy business, said: “SME’s like SFW need staff who operate at the highest levels of competence, but we face regular challenges in identifying learning and development that truly meets our needs. The ‘helicopter’ view of the training market that the National Skills Academy for IT will offer will be of real value to us. We also welcome the plans to make available training that uses new technologies to increase flexibility and reduce cost.”

The Skills Academy will provide IT professionals with access to industry-valued courses and qualifications that cover the technical, business and interpersonal skills required by today’s IT professionals. The Skills Academy will make it easy for employers and IT professionals to find what they are looking for and understand what each course or qualification covers.

Development will begin in December 2009, with the National Skills Academy for IT opening in Autumn 2010.

For details on the National Skills Academy for IT, go to www.e-skills.com/nsa.