Andrew Corbett

IT Skills in UK Facing Crisis

Press release   •   Apr 19, 2013 09:10 BST

  • EU IT skills gap expected to be 900,000 people by 2015
  • UK IT workforce faces additional threat in shape of aging IT workforce
  • The UK IT Association and E-skills leading campaigns to help plug this gap

The rising demand for IT skills in the UK workforce is putting increasing pressures on UK business and this problem is being exacerbated by an aging workforce and a shortage of people joining the sector.

According to a survey commissioned by E-skills 2012 saw an average of 173,000 IT vacancies for each fiscal quarter, a figure which represents an amazing fifty two percent increase since 2009. The projections are for the increase in demand for IT professionals to increase by at least double the UK average until 2020.

These figures are not surprising. The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs recognises that the IT sector is growing and specialist IT knowledge will be sought after across the EU, with projections of an EU-wide IT skills shortage of 900,000 people by 2015.

The UK IT sector is facing an additional threat in the shape of an aging workforce. In 2001 around a third of IT professionals in the UK were aged between 16 and 29 years old. In the latest survey this had dropped to below a fifth of all workers within the IT sector. While the ageing workforce is a pressing issue it also represents an opportunity to meet the demand for IT professionals. E-skills are currently preparing a managed apprenticeship service in addition to their existing apprenticehip programmes for UK SMEs that are interested in developing their own apprentices. The UK currently has over a million young people (aged 16-24) unemployed.

Another area ripe for recruitment is women. Less than eighteen percent of the IT workforce in the UK are female, the fourth worst for representation within the EU. More research is needed to establish why this is but it certainly seems to lend weight to the stereotypes of IT professionals within the UK.

Another way of closing the skills gap is in re-training mature workers who have lost their jobs in more traditional professions. The advantage of this option is mature workers are already accustomed to the work place. The UK IT Association is running the recycle me campaign which is aimed at helping people into the UK IT sector with a particular emphasis on finding training and employment for the mature workforce.

Whichever way that the skills gap is closed it is important for the UK economy that companies do improve their levels of IT service provision. It is estimated that if UK companies optimised their use of Information Technology it would create another 500,000 jobs and according to a recent study by BOOZ it will add £63 billion to GDP.

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About UK IT Association

The UK IT Association (UKITA) is a not-for-profit business support and Trade Association. It is a member of the Trade Association Forum which was established by the CBI and includes the CBI in its membership.

UKITA has links with Universities, Further Education colleges and maintains a relationship with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. 

It also owns and operates the Skillfair consultants and business advisers membership organisation and tender-sourcing service.

UKITA is a founder member and currently holds the presidency of PIN-SME (www.pin-sme.eu) which unites IT SME organisations in other EU countries and speaks for the sector at EU commission level.

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