CXO

IT skills crisis - is it over for good?

The vast majority of firms are neither struggling to secure the IT skills they need nor investing in training IT staff, finds an annual report into the state of the IT jobs market.

The vast majority of firms in the UK have seen no evidence of an IT skills shortage, according to a report released today.

Just one in seven businesses surveyed by the National Skills Academy for IT had difficulties filling IT and telecoms roles last year.

The level of training available to IT staff in the UK also doesn't suggest that businesses view workers' tech skills as lacking. The proportion of IT workers who received employer training last year was lower than that for other UK professions, and only about three per cent of firms had a dedicated budget for training IT staff.

The figures were revealed in the Technology Insights 2012 report by the IT industry skills body e-skills UK.

The fact that most firms don't appear to be struggling to secure IT skills seemingly undermines warnings from bodies like e-skills and the European Commission that a lack of expertise will hamper the growth of the tech sector.

Dr Jonathan Liebenau, reader in Technology Management at the London School of Economics, said the report demonstrates that an IT skills shortage is not a concern for most employers.

"People don't think that it's worth spending a lot of money to train people in-house," he said.

"If they're not going to put their money where their mouth is, they can't go on complaining about how the skills shortage is caused by a poor labour market, but that's not how they're behaving."

Demand for IT staff remains substantially below what it was before the economic crash in 2008.

There were about 116,000 advertised IT and telecoms vacancies during each quarter of 2011, according to the e-skills report, far fewer than the close to 200,000 IT and telecoms posts advertised in the first quarter of 2008 and more than 350,000 posts vacant in the second quarter of 2001.

There are signs of what the report calls a "partial recovery" since the economic crash, which caused the number of IT and telecoms vacancies to slump to 82,000 in 2009.

But e-skills has downgraded its forecast for the rate at which new jobs will be created in the IT industry from predictions made in its Technology Insights report last year. The 2012 report predicts the number of jobs in the industry will increase by 0.54 per cent each year between now and 2020, down from the forecast of 2.19 per cent it made in its 2011 report.

The 2012 report says this reduction is largely down to expected cuts to non-IT staff in the industry and that the number of IT jobs will still grow at nearly twice the rate of the national workforce.

There will also continue to be high demand for new people to enter IT and telecoms roles, due largely to the need to replace people leaving the profession. The 2012 report predicts there will be 129,000 new entrants to the professions each year through to 2015.

e-skills CEO Karen Price said that with the forecast increase in IT jobs: "it is vital that we continue to invest in the skills of those working in technology, and create new routes for young people to enter exciting and challenging careers in the industry."

The majority of vacancies for IT and telecoms staff in 2011 were for permanent posts, 79 per cent, and in the areas of development, design or support, with systems developers accounting for more than one quarter of all positions advertised.

The technical skills most often called for in 2011 were: SQL, C, C#, .NET and Java.

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

Editor's Picks