§ 18. Mr. Longbottom
asked the Minister of Technology what estimates he has made of the shortage of computing staff in Great Britain.
§ Mr. Marsh
There are no precise figures, but there are currently shortages of most types of computer staff. The immediate pressures are for programmers and systems analysts with three or four years' experience. We are planning in conjunction with the Department of Education and Science to see that the educational system is geared to meet future requirements.
§ Mr. Longbottom
What immediate steps, other than the National Computer Centre—which seems rather a paper tiger—does the Minister intend to take to deal with this serious situation?
§ Mr. Marsh
I must first make the point that the serious situation arises because there is an insufficiency of people with three or four years' experience. The blame for that can hardly be laid on this side of the House. Secondly, it would be regrettable for hon. Members opposite to start underplaying the value of the National Computing Centre before it has even had time to go into action. Thirdly, the Department of Education and Science has set up a group to deal exclusively with the whole, question of computer education.
§ Mr. Snow
Is my hon. Friend aware that the chairman of one very large British computer manufacturing organisation takes the view that the training of this highly qualified staff should be a joint venture with the other companies, including the large American company to which I think he referred a moment or two ago, and that directors of education should be better informed about the capacity of these firms?
§ Mr. Marples
But can the hon. Gentleman assure us that the existing computer staff is being used in the most economical 1095 way? In other words, can he assure us that the Government, the local authorities and the nationalised industries are not using these scarce scientific people and having their efforts duplicated over various authorities?