When IT Meets Politics

Dec 9 2007   7:59AM GMT

Back your MP in fighting the ICT skills funding cuts

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Tags:
Comprehensive Spending Review
ICT skills
Reskilling

Nearly 130 MPs have now signed a motion opposing the ending of funding for the part time degree courses used by many of you to acquire or update the skills you need in order to remain employable.


Early Day Motions arouse feelings among MPs similar to petitions to Number 10. It is the quality of the signatures that count. Those signed by respected MPs from all parties have influence. When the number of signatures approaches half the house, Government climbs down rather than face the prospect of a mandatory debate and vote.

It does not happen often but 127 members, (from all parties and including labour loyalists and ex-ministers from this Government as well as from the opposition) have now signed EDM 317:

“That this House is concerned that the Government’s decision to withdraw funding from institutions for equivalent or lower qualification students will have a disproportionate impact on the part-time sector in general and on specific institutions such as Birkbeck and the Open University; and urges the Government to consider ways in which it can minimise the damage this measure will do to lifelong learning and the delivery of the Leitch agenda objectives.”

This is the proposal to which I referred in my blog on “Walking backwards into the future. It is, however, only one of a number of equally “introspective” proposals between put forward by departments and agencies as they seek to protect their sacred cows from decimation during the Comprehensive Spending Review. Another is the plan to cut 450 jobs from SOCA to save less than 1% of what DWP alone is said to be losing to organised and systemic fraud.

The answer entails political activity, however modest, on the part of those whose jobs and pensions depend our retaining a world-class and regularly re-skilled ICT workforce, rather than contracting the heart of our economy to India and China..

Has your MP signed?

If so write and thank them – letters of thank-you are so rare that they have particular impact.

If not – write and ask them if they are aware of the damage these cuts will do, let alone the message they send.

Either way, you might add a comment about the SOCA cuts and the need for savings to be made where there is flab to be cut – not where the overall cost to taxpayer will be far greater than the nominal department or agency saving.

You might also wish to draw their attention to the recent report of the Treasury Select Committee on the Comprehenvive Spending Review and the need for joined up accountability to accompany joined-up service agreements.

2  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Sarah Burnett
    Hi Philip,

    I believe cut backs of this kind are very shortsighted. They do not take into account many other costs that are incurred as a result of poor ICT skills - e.g. slowing down modernisation of public sector services.

    By the way, this is a pet subject of mine. See:

    http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conWebDoc.15087&changeNav=9224

    Sarah Burnett

    Analyst

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  • Iain Sutherland
    Philip

    It is with interest that I read on your blog about the Early Day Motion on the withdrawing of financial assistance for 2nd degree courses.

    I find this a quite extraordinary decision as this directly affects the education of Information Security professionals.

    As far as I am aware there are only one or two first degree courses in Information Security and the rest of the degree courses are post graduate MSc or PhD which falls into the 2nd degree category.

    Without the Government support of these 2nd Degree courses these will become un-affordable and will die off as the Security Professionals will not be able to afford the increased costs and the employers will not fund the increased costs.

    With the current climate of data leakage and the Governments warning to the Heads of the UKs top 300 organisations about the attacks to their Networks and Information Systems from China surely now is not the time to start reducing the ability for our Security Professionals to get further education.

    How can this Government complain when there are issues with Information Security if they are not prepared to help with improving Security Professionals with their education.

    Regards

    Iain

    Iain Sutherland

    Managing Director

    Information Security Solutions

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