A shortage of IT graduates is starting to affect the delivery of public services, according to speakers at a British Computer Society debate.

The BCS said high-flying IT students are sought after in vital sectors such as finance, healthcare and defence, but the continuing fall in IT graduate numbers would hurt the public sector’s ability to put up enough money to compete for them.

A government relations spokesperson at the BCS said: “Those who can afford to raise salaries and become more aggressive about their recruitment are going to be the ones who attract the best IT graduates.

“There is always going to be a point further on down the line when this will start to affect those things that matter to us on a daily basis, like public services.”

The panel, representing a blue chip company, IT trainers, recruiters and academia agreed that the dearth of female IT students and female employees wanting to switch careers into IT was also creating a substantial challenge for companies and head-hunters hoping to recruit enough suitable candidates.

Professor Dominic Palmer-Brown, associate dean at the School of Computing and Technology at the University of East London said: “Around 50 per cent of the population are female and we recruit extremely poorly from that 50 percent. If we could do something to address that, we could make a massive change.”

Jeff Barnes, at IT training company QA-IQ, added: “There is a huge pool of potential IT talent among people who are already working and there should be more efforts to drive these people through appropriate courses.”

In February the BCS and womenintechnology.co.uk are holding a free one-day IT recruitment showcase in London for a wide range of female technologists, including students, postgraduates, experienced professionals and those wanting to return to work in the IT industry.

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