Women hold the key to UK competitiveness, but as long as the IT industry appears unattractive to them, the country's skills shortages will remain unresolved, warns the e-skills NTO.
According to the organisation, which acts as the official voice of the sector, the IT industry is growing at a rate of 34 per cent every year, and now has more staff than the teaching profession. However, unfilled positions are preventing the growth of the industry and hampering the UK's chances to build a competitive advantage - a situation that could be eased if women were to enter the industry in similar proportions to men, it says.
"Women undergraduates from non-IT degrees are less than half as likely to enter the industry as their male counterparts, and of those who do choose IT degrees, 70 per cent do not take up IT jobs," explains Anne Cantelo, project manager at the e-skills NTO.
In an effort to address the situation, the organisation has joined forces with industry players such as IBM and Andersen Consulting to investigate the reasons why IT is failing to attract women graduates. It is thought that the industry's "impersonal and deeply technical image" may be a contributing factor.
The project has been launched with a careers survey distributed to IT employers, graduates in IT roles, undergraduates from all disciplines, career advisors at universities and professionals in the industry. To participate, visit www.e-skillsnto.org.uk.