The UK has a shortfall of more than 200,000 skilled IT professionals, and this figure will grow to nearly 300,000 by 2005, according to research by IDC and Comptia.
The findings are evidence of a two-speed economy emerging in IT, with small companies struggling to find the right IT staff while large firms are freezing recruitment.
Despite the slowdown, the UK is facing a 25% shortage of network skills. The availability of enterprise application skills such as SAP lags behind demand by 10% in the UK, while there is a 3% shortage of host-based skills.
A similar picture emerges across Europe, with most countries experiencing IT skills shortages of between 8% and 11%. Shortages of network skills are as high as 32% in some countries. By 2005, IDC forecasts that Europe will have 1.7 million too few IT staff.
Although large IT suppliers have been shedding their workforce, the bulk of those to lose their jobs are sales staff, with many firms keeping and retraining permanent technical staff, IDC said. The biggest losers in the downturn have been self-employed IT consultants and contractors.