§ Mr. Baldry
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on initiatives that he is taking to tackle skill shortages in advanced technology.
§ Mr. Butcher
I chair the information technology skills shortages committee, which proposed in its first report, published in July, a "partnership for change" between industry and the academic world to provide the IT skills needed by Britain's industry, specifically at graduate level. I am delighted to report that this idea has been taken up by the CBI education foundation, which has proposed an IT skills agency, to define industry's requirements and to bring together industry and education to meet these. It is hoped that the agency will start work shortly. The committee intends to produce a report on IT skills shortages below graduate level shortly, and a final report will summarise progress made so far and put forward new points for action.