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UK tech industry needs 110,000 new recruits

e-skills concerned about ageing workforce

The UK IT and telecoms industry needs more than 110,000 new recruits to just meet this year’s demand, according to a new e-skills report.

The sector skills council for business and information technology’s report, ‘Technology Insights 2011’, revealed that employment in the IT industry is expected to grow at 2.19 percent a year over the next decade – nearly five times faster than the UK average of 0.45 percent.

This translates to more than half a million new IT and telecoms professionals needed over the next five years, with 110,400 required to meet the demand for 2011.

Currently, 1.5 million people work in IT and telecoms, with 40 percent working directly in the IT and telecoms industry. The rest are employed in every other sector.

E-skills said that the source of new recruits will include people moving from other occupations into the industry and those who are re-entering the workforce after a career break or period of unemployment. Seventeen percent of posts are expected to be directly filled by graduates or higher.

However, a report from the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) found last year that the unemployment rate for IT graduates had increased to 16.3 percent in 2009, and that IT graduates are most likely to struggle with finding a job.

The jobs on offer will cover a broad range of skills, with 63 percent expected to be managerial and senior professional roles, such as ICT managers, IT strategy and planning professionals and software professionals. Meanwhile, 18 percent of the roles are expected to be associate professional and technician level positions, such as IT user support and IT operations technicians, and 19 percent to be skilled trades and administrative roles.

Although the strong and growing demand for IT professionals is positive, the e-skills report also identified some worrying trends.

The ageing IT and telecoms workforce and the lack of gender diversity in the industry are also causes for concern.

According to the report, the proportion of IT and telecoms professionals aged under 30 has declined from 33 percent in 2001 to just 19 percent in 2010, as the sector favours experienced workers over new graduates more and more. At the same time, the proportion of workers over 50 has almost doubled to 17 percent.

Meanwhile, women make up just 18 percent of the IT and telecoms professional workforce.

Maggie Berry, managing director of womenintechnology.co.uk, said: "The figures for women in IT have been hovering around the same percentage points for a while now in the UK yet practically every firm I talk to would be interested in hiring more technical women.

"The whole IT profession needs to work together to create a pipeline of future female talent for the industry but we also need to focus on encouraging the women who are already working in the industry to stay and succeed."

Karen Price, Chief Executive of e-skills UK, added: "There is a particular need for new types of development programmes that help young people move into IT roles and become productive more quickly, and for continued action to attract talent from all sources, particularly women."

E-skills also identified the issues that employers believe will affect the demand for IT skills in the next three years.

Employers cited security and data protection as particular concerns, but also considered significant was innovation, followed by cloud computing and the convergence of communications and IT.


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