Some 27,000 personnel have disappeared from Britain's IT workforce over the past 12 months, marking the industry's first fall in employment for five years.
Figures released during the middle of 1999 revealed that almost 887,000 people were working in IT. This year however, an analysis of the Government's labour force survey by the IT National Training Organisation (ITNTO) revealed that total to have shrunk to 860,000.
According to the ITNTO's analysis, the number of IT managers in employment fell by 12,000 this last year to 180,000, as did the number of analysts/programmers working, which went down from 304,000 to 292,000. A decrease of 10,000 employees to 58,000 was also noted among computer engineers.
The diminishing IT workforce appears to have affected all areas of the economy including manufacturing, government and the financial sector. Rather than indicating a mass exodus from the industry however, the ITNTO believes this drop in IT employment is due to the finalisation of Y2K projects around the country.
"This fall in figures does not reflect an economic down turn or any great shake-out in the IT industry," comments John O'Sullivan, director of the ITNTO. "Rather, it is a transient effect of Y2K work petering out after the artificially high growth of the industry over the previous year." Internet service firms did note an increase in staff during the last quarter, while the number of software engineers and computer operators in employment grew from 180,000 to 186,000 and 142,000 to 144,000 respectively.