Employers were urged to step up their training efforts as evidence emerged that the number of young people entering the IT profession is falling dramatically.
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Over the past 10 years the proportion of IT workers under 30 has plummeted from 43% to 32%, radically changing the make-up of the IT workforce, research from Computer Economics reveals.
The findings have raised fears that there is not enough young blood entering the profession to meet the expected boom in demand when e-commerce takes off in two or three years' time.
Employers have either abandoned or scaled down their graduate recruitment programmes as they move towards outsourcing their IT departments.
Outsourcing companies have also slimmed down their recruitment efforts, leading to an overall fall in the proportion of young people in the workforce.
But the declining numbers may create a backlash for employers as e-commerce begins to take off, warned Philip Virgo, strategic advisor to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems. Employers should start training workers of all ages in the skills they need for e-commerce now and they should start creating the incentives to keep them, he said.
"You can't recruit experienced youngsters because they don't exist. You have to train your own and work out how to keep them."
Computer Economics' research shows a sharp division in the IT jobs market. Demand for traditional skills has fallen dramatically while demand for e-commerce-related skills is increasing.
Its findings show that overall demand for IT workers has yet to pick up from the year 2000 downturn. But demand for developers, who have the skills needed for new e-commerce implementations, is vibrant.
Are you being paid what you're worth?
|Position||Average UK salary (£)|
|Systems development manager||46,473|
|Senior project manager||50,630|
|Senior business systems manager||53,685|
|Technical support manager||44,794|
|User support manager||40,756|
Source: Computer Economics