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Budget 2012: IT skills still need more investment

The government missed an opportunity to support technology jobs and innovation

If the government wants the UK to be "Europe's technology centre", chancellor George Osborne should have done more to promote IT skills and jobs in his budget speech yesterday, observers noted.

Osborne could have, for example, outlined incentives for large technology companies to train people into the industry, according to Bindi Bhullar, director at India-based HCL Technologies.

"Far from worrying about being left behind by foreign economies such as India, the government should instead look to follow their example, and find local government sponsorship for training and support from high-tech multinational corporations," said Bhullar.

"There are so many savvy young minds who are facing the prospect of long-term unemployment today, and if the government is truly serious about embracing innovation, it should invest in IT skills for the young as a means of creating jobs, and driving Britain out of economic uncertainty."

Sid Barnes, executive director at IT recruiter Modis, said that the UK is already suffering from not being able to access a big enough technology talent pool.

"A lack of technology skills is hampering progress in information technology - an essential part of working life, regardless of the industry sector.

"In recent Modis research with IT leaders, 27 percent are already struggling to source quality candidates with IT expertise."

Meanwhile, Osborne also announced initiatives to aid academics and to encourage more research and development in the UK. While cautiously welcoming the measures, Jan Duffy, EMEA research director at IDC, believes that the benefits of this would remain to be seen.

"It will be interesting to see whether giving financial support to academics to help them turn ideas into commercial ventures will encourage more partnerships between the high-tech sector and universities, coupled with increased R&D tax credits to drive growth in high-tech R&D in the UK.

"When you think about this in conjunction with the support for small firms given in the budget, it could result in many more start-ups that would, in turn, benefit from the lower corporate tax rate. This will encourage venture capitalists to look at the high-tech sector differently - tax breaks can make a big difference to this community," she said.

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