Education and Training
IT is used in education across a spectrum of levels from the use of a wordprocessor for almost any course to specialist training in advanced technology. This has been further developed recently with IT being used to deliver education in new ways such as those offered by the University for Industry.
This initial development of IT use has been supported by both technical and educational staff in schools, colleges and universities. Evidence has recently been presented of difficulties in recruiting and retaining the next generation of both teaching and support staff across the educational sector though this situation is very dependent on the health of the IT job market more generally. As IT becomes more integral to education Government must respond proactively to any evidence of staff shortages in the sector
Traditional qualifications frameworks have tended to evolve relatively slowly over time. In the IT sector many qualifications, such as the popular Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer range, have developed outside of the academic framework because of the need for them to be responsive to changes in the industry. Some colleges and Universities have responded by putting together academic courses in partnership with companies in the industry, such as the MSc in SAP systems at Sheffield Hallam University.
Liberal Democrats would build on the existing IT qualifications and promote the further development of IT qualifications within the national academic and vocational frameworks. This would make those needing to develop IT skills eligible for support in line with our overall policy for funding post-16 education.
The approach to personal taxation which we outline in the next section should also promote additional investment by IT professionals in developing their own skills.