The UK faces a serious shortfall in IT and telecoms talent as the numbers of graduates with IT-related degrees drops dramatically, according to research released by e-skills UK.
Employment in the IT and telecoms industry is predicted to grow up to five times the national average, but there has been a sharp fall in the numbers of people studying technology and making it their career. An additional 140,000 IT and telecoms professionals are needed to keep pace with demand, but UK applications to IT-related degrees have tumbled by 50% in the last five years.
IT and telecoms plays a vital and growing role in the UK economy, contributing 51.9bn pounds every year, 5% of the total UK economy, with one person in 20 working in the industry, according to the UK IT & Telecoms Insights 2008 report.
E-skills said this tremendous economic strength can only continue if there is more widespread investment in skills. Technology enables UK businesses to secure new markets, improve productivity and performance and attract high value-added business and investment to the UK, said Karen Price, CEO at e-skills.
Exploiting technology could add an extra 35bn pounds ($69.5bn) to the UK economy over the next decade, but only if there is the skilled workforce to make that happen. Half of the extra 140,000 needed will come from people moving into IT from other occupations, while one in five will join direct from education.
UK companies have IT departments that lead the world in solving business problems by the smart use of technology. Our lead in these areas will disappear fast unless we radically improve our business and technology skills training at all levels, said Paul Coby, CIO, British Airways and chair of the e-skills UK CIO Board.