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Thursday 27th September/... ELSPA (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association) has welcomed the recent announcement by e-skills UK, the employer-led Sector Skills Council for IT, on a major new initiative to promote IT professional careers to young people in the UK.

The industry has, for years, suffered too few graduates with professional qualifications in this sector and ELSPA welcomes the news more incentives and support will be given to education providers that reflect the needs of IT professional careers. ELSPA has been committed to speaking with government about the need for a larger graduate talent pool for the industry to grow and develop within the UK and greets this announcement with open arms.

With backing by the Higher Educations Funding Council of England (HEFCE) this initiative, named 'Revitalise IT', will bring together education providers and employers to offer quality training and preparation for careers in the IT industries.

The 'Revitalise IT' proposal will be focusing on two key issues:

- 'AmbITon' - this will focus on changing the attitudes of young people towards the IT industry, stimulating demand for technology-related degrees and careers. It will include a special emphasis on widening participation in higher education and improving the gender balance in IT.

- 'Catalyst' - this programme will focus on degree level curricula. Moving towards advanced capabilities of graduates from varying IT related courses and encouraging curriculum development in areas of industry growth.

Paul Jackson, Director General ELSPA, said: "We welcome the announcement by the Sector Skills Council for IT to encourage more young people into IT related careers and support universities in develop and promoting courses that reflect the needs of IT related employers.

"For years the UK games sector has complained that there are too few graduates with the right knowledge and skills required to meet the demands of our industry. We hope that this new initiative will go some way to reversing this trend. We look forward to meeting with the Council in the near future along with central government to ensure that the games industry benefit from this initiative and offer our help and advice where needed.

He added: "It is important that we are able to promote, nurture and train new talent from within the UK. To offer education and training for our young people that will build successful careers within the industry as well as providing, not only fresh new talent, but talent with training and qualification this growing industry requires."

Karen Price, CEO e-skills UK, said: "The IT and Telecoms sector makes a vital contribution to the UK's long term prosperity in an increasingly competitive global economy. The IT professional workforce in the UK has almost doubled in the last 12 years: from 550,000 to around one million today, and will continue to grow strongly over the coming decade. At the same time, every year fewer young people choose to undertake an IT-related degree, with a drop of around half (46%) since 2001. There is a mismatch here that urgently needs to be addressed.

"Strengthening relationships between employers, universities and schools is at the heart of e-skills UK's campaign to make the UK world class in technology skills. Through this initiative, we will work with universities to help them build on their success and identify with growth markets - such as the increasing need for business-oriented, customer-focused IT professionals. We will also work with schools and young people to raise awareness and understanding of a future in IT."

'Revitalise IT' will primarily focus on London and the South East of England and will initially run from 2007-2009. It is expected to involve more than 40,000 students and it is hoped that success will lead to similar programmes in other parts of the UK.

Revitalise IT will build on e-skills UK's existing employer-supported education programmes including the Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree course, the new Diploma in IT for 14-19 year olds, and the award-winning Computer Clubs for Girls which already involves over half of all secondary schools in England.

Universities already committed to this scheme include the University of Kent, University of Greenwich, University of Reading, Oxford Brookes University, University College London and City University London.


Editor's Notes:

About ELSPA - http://www.elspa.com

ELSPA (The Entertainment & Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

ELSPA's activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Anti-Piracy UK and EU, PR and Communication, Events. More information on all these activities can be found at http://www.elspa.com.

Laura West

Barrington Harvey

Tel: 01462 456780

Fax: 01462 456781

Email laura.west@bhpr.co.uk

Issued by: Barrington Harvey, Trooper's Yard, Bancroft, Hitchin SG5 1JW


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