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-- SAS UK leads fight on IT skills shortages --


SAS Institute UK, the market leader in e-intelligence and data warehousing, today issued a warning that companies need to take action now to halt the increasing shortage of IT professionals. The company stated that short-term solutions are not going to address the problem and long term strategies should be put into place now.

SAS suggests that companies should look outside their day-to-day business to adopt joint partnerships with organisations such as Universities to provide courses that integrate education with practical training and experience. Last year SAS UK launched the SAS MSc in Business Intelligence in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. This new breed of course is producing a new generation of IT professionals, equipped with all the skills essential for the effective development, management and exploitation of business information solutions. Expansions to this and other initiatives around the country are currently under development.

Stephanie Penning, education manager for SAS UK, who has been a driving force for SAS' 'future skills' initiatives, said "We have been concerned about the potential skills shortage for several years and strongly believe that IT companies can and should make a difference. We can help by providing more secondments and placements for students and even carrying out initiatives like the one we have with Sheffield Hallam.

Penning continued, "Talks are currently underway between SAS and other universities to provide similar initiatives looking at the areas of CRM, data mining and balanced scorecard. It is our responsibility to work towards changing the shortage of skilled professionals. Today, IT professionals are not programmers locked away in an airless room, but a highly sought after hybrid of a management consultant and IT consultant. They are primarily business consultants who understand how to apply technology."

Another element in the skills shortage is the lack of women entering the IT profession and Penning has been involved in local Buckinghamshire-based projects aimed at changing girls' perceptions of working in IT and making them aware of the opportunities that are open to them.

Geoff Cutts, head of postgraduate programmes at the School of Computing & Management Sciences at Sheffield Hallam University added, "At Sheffield Hallam University, we are playing our part in reducing the skills shortage and have received recognition from the Government for it. Students from all backgrounds, whether they are new graduates or have been working for a number of years, are studying for the SAS MSc in Business Intelligence. Some have used it to gain the skills to make a career change into IT, which many people often find difficult to do. The programme has been so successful that we are looking to expand the programme with SAS over the coming years."

The SAS MSc in Business Intelligence incorporates leading educational practices from Sheffield Hallam with training to support SAS Certification. It produces effective problem-solvers that ensure organisations utilise their data to add business value and that improve an organisation's overall competency through the exploitation of business intelligence.

Organisations that sponsor successful students benefit from the broader perspective in business intelligence that candidates have achieved after the seven months of intensive study. They will also have access to an industry-supported mentoring scheme, and are welcome to influence the course development and content via an advisory panel. On completion of the research project and the SAS Certification exams, successful students are awarded the MSc Business Intelligence and SAS Certification.

About SAS
SAS is the world leader in e-intelligence software and services, enabling its customers to turn raw data - including the vast quantity generated by e-business - into usable knowledge. Software from SAS, the world's largest privately held software company, is used at more than 35,000 business, government and university sites in 110 countries. For more information visit www.sas.com.

For further information, please contact the team at the SAS press office on:
tel:+44 (0)20 7544 3202, fax:+44 (0)20 7240 1910 or e-mail saspressoffice@webergroup.co.uk


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