HC Deb 07 December 1965 vol 722 cc227-8
30. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Minister of Technology what is the estimated number of programmers able to design compilers and systems analysts able to design systems for the control of organisations and processes currently employed in the United Kingdom; and what is the expected rise in demand for these skills during the period outlined by the National Plan.

Mr. Marsh

A precise estimate is not available, but the evidence in my possession suggests that the number is of the order of 100 or so. At least three times as many is likely to be necessary by 1970 to meet the expected demand.

Mr. Osborn

The Minister said at Eastbourne that there was need to take special action. Is he proposing to take special action to see that the supply is there when necessary?

Mr. Marsh

Yes, Sir. The Government are taking special action on this matter. Following our initiative, an official working group is being set up by the Department of Education and Science to consider, as a matter of urgency, action to improve the supply of trained computer personnel at all levels in the educational service. It has to be made clear that people at this level cannot be trained quickly, and it is a great pity that the problem was not recognised earlier.

Mr. Maxwell

Will my hon. Friend consider instructing this working group at the Department of Education and Science to enlarge the scope of its inquiry so as to include the possibility of providing computers at secondary modern schools, comprehensive schools and grammar schools? Unless we train our younger people in the use of computers, we shall never have enough people to use the new technology.

Mr. Marsh

That is very much another question.