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Sector LMI - IT

The Information and Communication (ICT) sector is an integral part of the economy, information, business and consumer services, health, leisure and modern day social networking. It contributes nearly £69 billion to the UK economy. The UK has a good track record in developing IT-enabled business solutions. There are two major options for those wishing to apply their qualifications and training in IT to employment: either work within this sector directly, or become part of the IT professional workforce employed in other industries.

92% of large organisations employ IT Professionals. People working in other industries often work in IT departments or as IT support staff within organisations. IT sub-sectors include Software consultancy, Manufacturing of computer equipment, Computer media, Data processing, Database activities and Maintenance and repair of office, accounting and computer equipment.

Major employers of IT professionals outside the IT industry include: financial services (17%), public sector (including education and health)(13%) and manufacturing (13%)

Key facts

  • An estimated 761,000 people are employed in the UK ICT sector.
  • There are around 131,000 businesses in the UK’s ICT sector, comprising 5% of all UK businesses.
  • 44% of these businesses are located in London and the South East.
  • The ICT sector also has a large proportion of very small companies, and self-employment is popular.
  • Employment in IT professional occupations has almost doubled since the early 1990s.

ICT workforce

  • The workforce is highly qualified as 61% hold a Level 4 or higher qualification, compared to 35% in the overall working population.
  • 23% of the ICT workforce is female, whilst 17% of IT professionals are female.
  • 22% of the workforce is aged 16-29 years, which has reduced from 33% in 2001.
  • 10% of IT professionals have some disability and 14% are from ethnic minorities.
  • 16% of the workforce are self-employed.

Education and training

The IT workforce is highly qualified and employers generally prefer to recruit experienced people with graduate level qualifications. More than half of the workforce has attained a qualification at Level 4 or higher (undergraduate or degree level). This is nearly double the figure for the UK working population overall. Qualifications and training in IT, computer studies and computer science range from GCSE and A Level (or equivalent), to vocational qualifications, Apprenticeships, HNC/D and degree level.

There is concern that the number of people taking Computing degrees has declined and that there will not be enough skilled workers to meet demand. The most common IT occupational areas entered by graduates are Computer Analysts and Programmers and Software Designers/Engineers. 21% of graduates entering IT or Telecoms occupations find employment in London with a further 15% in the South East.

The IT sector is the most likely to fund and arrange training for its own staff. On average the IT sector spends £668 on training per employee per year. However, training patterns vary considerably by company size. 78% of large companies provided training for their IT professionals in the last year on average, compared to only 18% of establishments with one to ten employees. Most of the training in the sector does not lead to a formally- recognised qualification, but 40% of technical training is working towards a recognised vendor-specific award.

Applicants to computing degree courses has declined by 45% since 2001. In 2009, there were only 15,000 applicants to degree courses and only 15% were female. Only 10% of students were taking A Level computing. Encouraging more girls to study IT-related subjects and more women to enter this workforce is a priority for the sector, demonstrated by projects such as ‘Computer Clubs for Girls,’ the ‘Equalitec – Advancing Women’ website and ‘Women into Science and Engineering’ (WISE)

Salary levels

The average graduate starting salary across the sector is around £28,095. However, wages in this sector vary according to a range of factors, including: the role, the employees’ age, experience and qualifications and the location of the job. Below are details of the size of salaries you could currently expect from a small selection of occupations in the sector:

  • An average starting salary for an Apprentice is around £10,000 per year, although this varies widely. Many employers give Apprentices regular increases and further increases when they finish their Apprenticeships.
  • IT support technicians' salaries start between £17,000 and £20,000. Experienced staff can earn between £21,000 and £26,000. Senior staff with management responsibility may earn up to £30,000 a year.
  • Starting salaries for graduate software developers are between £19,500 and £24,000 a year. Experienced developers earn between £25,000 and £38,000, and with management responsibilities, can earn £45,000.
  • Salaries for new web designers are between £15,000 and £20,000 a year. Experienced designers can earn up to £30,000. Senior designers and those with specialist skills, for example Flash programming, may earn up to £40,000. Self-employed web designers negotiate their own rates.

The median gross weekly earnings for IT and Telecoms staff is £640, but it is £730 in London and £710 in the South East and East of England.

Future prospects

Since 2002, total employment in the ICT sector has declined. However, employment in the IT sector between 2009 and 2018 is predicted to grow at a rate of 1.3% per year, compared to 0.3% across the economy as a whole. The number of software professions is forecast to grow by 2% per year, IT strategy and planning professionals by 1.9% and ICT managers 1.3%. Jobs such as Database Assistants/Clerks, Telecoms Engineers and Computer Engineers will continue to decline over the same period.

There will be a need for extra staff to both fill new vacancies and replace workers who leave the sector for virtually all roles in the IT sector to 2013. There are 371,000 job opportunities forecast 2010 and 2020 to replace those leaving the sector and to fill new positions.

Between 2010-2015, output and productivity growth for the Telecommunications and Computer programming consultancy and related activities subsectors is forecast to be the highest level of all sectors.

31% of the ICT companies who are trying to recruit IT professionals report difficulties in finding people with the right skills. The workforce is increasingly expected to be multi-skilled, combining sophisticated business and people skills with technical abilities. Many lower-skilled, ‘entry level’ jobs are currently being carried out abroad to reduce costs. As a result, the proportion of highly skilled workers required is rising.

The major trends driving change are predicted to be:

  • Skills: The demand for employees to have advanced or higher-level IT skills is expected to increase if employers wish to remain competitive. Many IT jobs are likely to become more focused on offering technology support to business application, with more responsibility for business planning and strategy.
  • New technologies: are constantly developing. Developments mean that IT is faster, easier and can be used on a smaller scale (e.g. internet access via mobile phones, the iPod etc.). In the future, computing will be embedded in everyday appliances (fridges, ovens, even toilets!). Companies will develop the use of the internet to make phone calls instead of the regular network. Digital tagging will be developed and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is likely to become important, which are tiny cheap transmitters carrying a barcode. This, for instance, may allow people to point a mobile phone at a poster or advertisement and download dates, and website or contact details.


NGRF - LMI Futures Trends

ICT Sector Skills Assessment 2012

e-skills UK

National Careers Service - job profiles

Graduate Prospects

icould careers videos

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