Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Firms Flounder as the IT Talent Pool Grows Ever More Shallow; in Association with CODE WORKS CONNECT Technology Firms across the North East Are Having to Look Abroad for Skilled Staff. Andrew Mernin Finds out Why

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Firms Flounder as the IT Talent Pool Grows Ever More Shallow; in Association with CODE WORKS CONNECT Technology Firms across the North East Are Having to Look Abroad for Skilled Staff. Andrew Mernin Finds out Why

Article excerpt

Byline: Andrew Mernin

WHERE are the techies, asks Annabel Cornish, an IT boss based in Newcastle. The managing director of internet consultancy ZebraHosts has all the ingredients to drive her rapidly-growing business forward except for one vital ingredient - people.

Her quest to fill technical vacancies has received such a poor response in the region that she is about to widen the net and bring in staff from outside the North East.

She said: "With high-profile redundancies at companies like Northern Rock and Atmel, we thought now would be an opportune time to increase our technical support and recruit good, skilled people from the North East.

"If we don't get a response locally, we are going to have to widen our search outside the region. We've been reluctant to do that as we wanted to support our local workforce, but if they're not out there, we have no other option."

Ms Cornish is not the only IT boss pulling her hair out at the lack of skilled technical staff in the region.

A number of North East business leaders have expressed their concern at the skills epidemic in the wake of a major new survey.

A report by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that six out of 10 employers are having difficulties recruiting graduates for technical positions.

The CBI survey, which questioned 735 UK firms, revealed that the falling number of graduates with science, technology, engineering and maths qualifications is fuelling a skills shortage.

Director-general John Cridland said: "A worrying number of employers have little confidence that they will be able to plug their skills gaps. In our new stocktake of the nation's skills, too many firms also say poor basic skills are hampering customer service and acting as a drag on their business's performance."

Larger firms are increasingly looking to India, China and Eastern Europe to bridge the shortfall in UK skills.

Meanwhile, the research also showed that more than half of employers are concerned about their staff's inability to use computers. …

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