FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - More than one million information technology jobs are vacant around the world, and the number is likely to increase, according to International Data Corp.

By 2002 there will be 850,000 such vacancies in the United States, and more than one million in Europe, the company said.

Worldwide, unfilled information technology jobs in 2002 may exceed a quarter of the entire work force in the field last year, said H. Michael Boyd, manager for International Data's resourcing strategies group.

Attrition and lack of training are more to blame than a lack of people who are generally qualified, Mr. Boyd said.

Companies that train people who lack the exact technical skills needed can gain a competitive advantage, he said.

SAN FRANCISCO - Debit cardholders are progressive adopters of new technologies, according to a Gallup Organization study released by Visa U.S.A.The card association has been working to underscore its market leadership in debit cards.

In a September poll of 1,252 Americans who had used debit cards at ATMs or points of sale within the previous three months, 90% said the cards had made their lives easier.

That response exceeded those for other innovations: direct deposit, 77%; mobile phones, 67%; e-mail, 66%; fax machines, 65%; the Internet, 63%; voice mail, 58%; pagers/beepers, 40%; and shopping on the Internet, 31%.

Forty percent described themselves as people who "quickly adopt new ideas, techniques, and devices that will make my life easier."

Fifty-two percent strongly agreed that the "electronic age has made our lives more efficient."

Seventy-three percent said they believed they would "use cash less in the future." And 54% said "a cashless society is the wave of the future."

More than seven out of 10 had obtained a Visa check or MasterCard debit card within five years. Fifty-eight percent said they were using checks less frequently for payment, and 40% were using cash less frequently.

The findings reflect a "tremendous shift" in payment habits and "the power of debit cards - a product category that has quietly changed our everyday lives," said Jeffery Kann, executive vice president of consumer products at Visa U.S.A.

Customers grasp the utility of debit because "paper-based products cannot keep pace with today's increasingly fast-paced way of life and they can't be used to make electronic purchases onthe Internet or over the phone."

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - U.S. business will spend $292 million this year on training call center agents, 19% more than last year, International Data Corp. said.Seventy-three percent of the money last year went to training in business skills. Technical training absorbed the rest.

Well-trained customer agents are becoming more valuable, despite the increasing role of automation, International Data said.

"The agent has become a last resort, and it is essential for him to possess the content and communication skills necessary to successfully handle the customer interaction," said Katrina Menzigian, senior analyst with the firm's call center services.

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