90,000 opportunities to improve UK IT

We are constantly being told that the private sector will rescue the economy and create jobs – well now we have proof that the IT sector is doing its bit.

Our exclusive salary survey shows that there are nearly 90,000 job vacancies for IT professionals in the UK, a 7.6% increase on the same time last year. Once public sector IT staff find out their fate, there are plenty of corporate IT departments waiting for you.

We have all heard for years about skills shortages in IT – recruitment figures on this scale suggest it is not so much a lack of skills as simply a shortage of people. What we don’t know – and this is inevitably harder to gauge – is how many IT experts are out of work and looking for a job.

In recent years, that lack of labour has meant many firms turning to offshore resources – but if the government goes ahead with its immigration cap this route could be harder to take. David Cameron has said that intra-company transfers (ICTs) are likely to be excluded from the cap – which is highly significant for IT because this is the route by which the big offshore providers bring their staff into the UK. But now the Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government on the level at which the cap should be set, has said that targets will not be met unless ICTs are reduced.

It seems increasingly likely the government will put a salary threshold on ICTs below which an overseas worker cannot be brought into the UK. That will open up more opportunities for UK IT professionals, and potentially erode the cost benefit of some offshore services.

Perhaps, as a result, such a situation would encourage more IT employers to put their faith in youth and offer jobs for young people to bring more of the next generation into the IT workforce. Perhaps it might even persuade firms to bring the scandalously low proportion of women in IT up to more acceptable levels.

Those 90,000 vacancies present an opportunity to improve many things for UK IT.

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There are over a million UK IT workers. If they change jobs every 3 years then that is about 340,000 that change job a year. If it takes 3 months to find a replacement then there would be 85,000 vacancies at any one time.

So there will always be vacancies even when there are a lot of unemployed workers who could do the work.
Before forming our own company, we spent several months looking for alternative employment. There were plenty of vacancies out there, but so much competition for each place. Like anything it is swings and roundabouts, less unemployed means less vacancies, yet less competition for those posts.
Hi ArgieBee,

thanks for your comment - I can't fault your maths but I'd have to disagree with your figures.

If one-third of all UK IT staff change jobs every year there would be perpetual chaos in IT departments (or at least, more so than normal!). I find it very unlikely that the majority of IT workers changes jobs every three years.

The most recent stats I could find suggest that CIOs stay in post for an average of about five years, and I'd suggest that for their IT professional staff that figure would be longer. Contractors are different, of course, and move on far more frequently. But to attribute the current 90,000 vacancies purely to natural staff turnover is, I feel, unlikely.

I've not been able to find figures for IT staff turnover, but I would take a guess that it would be nearer 10% per annum than 33% - perhaps even lower in recent years where there have been so many redundancies in IT departments across the UK.

But if you have figures to prove me wrong I'd be happy to see them!

Bryan Glick