Demand for skilled IT workers is set to accelerate in the next five years. In the UK, a leading skills group has warned that the IT and telecoms workforce will require at least another 110,000 new recruits to keep up with demand.
E-skills UK’s Technology Insight 2011 report shows that demand for IT professionals has increased over the last year.
In the UK, some 1.5m people are employed in the IT workforce – equivalent to one in every 20 people employed in the UK. Of these, 40pc are employed in the IT and telecoms industry itself, while the remainder are spread across every other sector of the economy.
Employment in the IT and telecoms industry over the next decade is forecast to grow at 2.19pc per annum, nearly five times faster than the UK average, with more than half a million new IT and telecoms professionals needed over the next five years.
110,000 new workers needed
This year alone, the IT and telecoms workforce will require 110,000 new entrants to keep up with demand. Almost half of these will be individuals employed in other occupations moving into IT and telecoms, while 17pc will need to come directly from education.
But the research identifies worrying trends. The proportion of IT professionals under 30 has declined from 33pc in 2001 to only 19pc in 2010, as the sector increasingly favours experienced workers from other sectors over young recruits from the education system. At the same time, the proportion of those over 50 has almost doubled to 17pc.
It also shows that gender remains a significant issue, with women making up just 18pc of the IT professional workforce.
Technology is now an economic lever
The report demonstrates that technology is the most powerful lever the UK can employ to drive growth and innovation across the whole economy.
While the IT and telecoms industry alone already contributes stg£81bn per annum to the UK economy, 9pc of gross value added, the report finds that by exploiting the full potential of technology, the rest of the UK economy could be boosted by an additional stg£50bn over the next five to seven years.