The UK government is set up a new IT National Skills academy as part of a £30m plan to provide improved training for young professionals.

The new IT academy is set to open in 2009 and will be established as a partnership between e-skills UK, a non-profit organisation including representatives from government and business, including HP, IBM UK and Microsoft, and IT businesses such as BT, who will be providing partial funding. Three other new academies - for Enterprise, Power and Social Care - will join the existing network of twelve academies to support an estimated 880,000 people in their first five years of operation.

"Now, more than ever, we need to develop innovative training that inspires and empowers a new generation to realise their ambitions," said Skills Secretary John Denham, announcing the initiative. "A new National Skills Academy for IT will help build a world-beating workforce that will improve productivity and competitiveness - not just among new recruits but within the existing workforce."

Karen Price, Chief Executive of e-skills UK said, "We are delighted to be working with employers across the sector to get the Skills Academy off the ground. It offers a unique opportunity for employers to take collective responsibility for the skills and accreditation of the IT workforce, with innovative development programs and qualifications that are valued by the sector."

The announcement comes in the wake of last December's Leitch review, which concluded that the UK economy faces a bleak future unless there is a dramatic improvement in the skill set of the workforce. The report claims that a higher-value economy is necessary to compete with emerging nations such as China, a conclusion supported by a recent survey by the New York University Stern School of Business, which found that IT workers are more vulnerable than any other group to offshore outsourcing.

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