Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin MHK commented:
"I believe the ICT sector holds substantial potential for further growth, providing exciting careers for our people. We are therefore undertaking an Island-wide survey of ICT skills needs to help us plan how best to meet these needs and to maximise the potential of the sector."
"We have also jointly developed a 5 year strategy for ICT with the Manx ICT Association (MICTA) and the Chamber of Commerce’s ICT Committee."
Deb Byron, Chair of the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce’s ICT Committee, provided further details on some of the proposed initiatives that are being explored.
"In addition to the ICT skills survey of employers we will also be encouraging local businesses to provide work experience, placements and possible apprenticeships."
"We will also be looking to build links with the Department of Education and Children. This is to ensure that the ICT curriculum is better aligned with the needs of industry as well as finding ways to encourage the best Manx candidates to take up high quality computer science courses, which may include offering sponsorship to the right candidates."
The ICT sector in the Isle of Man was valued at £112M in the 2010/11 National Income figures which represents 3.3% of the economy. Although this compares unfavourably to an average of 8% in the OECD and 10% of GDP in the UK, the ICT sector in the Isle of Man is the fastest growing local sector locally, with annual growth at over 18%. The sector currently employs over 1200 people.
The Department has also highlighted the progress made on the formal qualifications in e-Gaming which were originally announced last November.
The Minister commented:
"E-Gaming continues to provide growth. Indeed the sector created over 60 new jobs in the first quarter of 2013."
"The Department announced a new qualification in e-Gaming in December 2012 to help individuals build their skills in e-Gaming. There has been significant interest in the Postgraduate Certificate in E-Gaming and we now have a core of locally-based participants who are currently working in the gaming industry. In addition, we have also been surprised, but delighted, by the strong overseas interest in the course."
"Currently the Isle of Man College is not set up to provide distance education programmes to overseas students so we were unfortunately unable to offer them the opportunity to enrol. However, solutions are being explored which would enable the College to tap into this potential market."
Further developments are planned over the next few months, including two e-Gaming modules being offered as electives on the MBA course and an undergraduate level qualification. It is believed that the Isle of Man’s course is the world’s first accredited qualification in e-Gaming and there are plans to offer an undergraduate level qualification in due course.