Posted by James Huntingford
There are over 109,000 businesses in the UK?s IT and telecoms industry ? 92% of which are IT and 8% telecoms. Virtually all (99%) of these companies are services businesses. Nearly one in 20 people employed in the UK work in the IT and telecoms workforce (1.5 million people). This comprises around 888,000 in the IT and telecoms industry itself and a further 588,000 working as IT or telecoms professionals in other industries.
The biggest employers outside the IT and telecoms industry itself are: financial services; public administration, education and health; and manufacturing. A total of 40% are now employed as ICT managers or IT strategy and planning professionals, and these are the occupations that have grown the most rapidly in the last six years. A further 30% are employed as software professionals. There have been substantial decreases in employment in other areas, such as IT user support, database and engineering roles.
Globalisation is affecting the age profile of IT and telecoms professionals. The proportion aged between 16 and 29 has dropped from 32% in 2001 to 21% in 2007 as the sector favours experienced workers from other sectors over young recruits from the education system. The workforce is highly qualified, with 55% of the UK?s IT and telecoms professionals holding a qualification at level 4 or higher (undergraduate or degree level), nearly double that of the UK working population overall. Moreover, only 3% of IT and telecoms professionals are not qualified to level 2. Gender remains a significant and worsening issue and, in 2007, only 18% of IT and telecoms workers were female.
It is estimated that the continued adoption and exploitation of ICT could generate an additional ?35 billion of GVA to the UK economy over the coming five to seven years, provided companies ? particularly smaller companies ? take action on the key factors of management and leadership skills, investment and the IT enablement of employees.
Employment in telecoms
In addition to catering for continued growth, recruitment into IT and telecoms also needs to replace those who leave the sector due to retirement or for other reasons. Of the overall recruitment into IT and telecoms professional jobs (to cover both growth and replacement), 65% is expected to be into managerial and senior professional positions; 19% into associate professional and technician level positions (such as operations technicians and user support); and 17% into skilled trades (telecoms engineers) and administrative roles (database assistants). On top of ?churn? within these occupations, there is a need for an average of 141,300 new entrants a year into professional job roles. Based on current data, the make-up of this annual intake is expected to be as follows:
?70,900 from occupations other than IT or telecoms
?26,800 from education (mainly graduate level and higher);
?43,600 from other sources (re-entering the workforce after a career break, early retirement or unemployment).
More than 20% of companies trying to recruit IT and telecoms professionals report difficulties in attracting applicants with the right skills. This is generally due to mismatches in terms of business and high-level technical skill needs. Micro establishments are most likely to rate applicants? skills levels as below those required. Virtually all companies experiencing recruitment problems report a negative impact on their company?s activities, the most common effect being difficulties in meeting customer service objectives. There is also a need to radically improve the understanding and appeal of careers in IT and telecoms among women.