There are 55,000 people currently working in central government public sector IT and collaborates with between 55,000 and 85,000 IT professionals in the private sector, Suffolk said at the conference in Westminster.
He said the industry must take away the geeky IT label to attract the right recruits. "To do this, I start by telling people that IT underpins every major economy in the world."
But he said that the younger generation's attitude towards IT means they can take it for granted and find it unexciting.
"I think we have a job to exlain to people the value we create. We need to fix this perception and the academic qualification framework," Suffolk said.
He said government "balances the risk" by outsourcing and relying on the global labour market. But, he said, "We have to continue to grow the capacity in the UK."