Skills gap narrows but key areas still suffer

The latest E-Skills UK report on the IT and telecoms workforce has identified a decline in the skills shortage. It also called...

The latest E-Skills UK report on the IT and telecoms workforce has identified a decline in the skills shortage. It also called for closer links between employers and colleges to make graduates "more work ready".

Terry Watts, chief operating officer at government skills body E-Skills UK, warned that the apparent easing of the skills shortage is partly due to recruitment freezes and the impact of the economic downturn and should therefore be greeted with caution.

"The report shows that the sector has been hit by reduced requirements for people but there are still skills gaps and shortages in key areas such as development and operations roles, with software and systems developers the hardest to recruit," he said and pointed to the continued shortage of IT professionals with C++ and C# skills.

"Although the problem is not as acute as it was, we should not take our eye off the ball. We must keep the focus on IT skills."

However, Watts said one positive outcome from the economic downturn over the past year is that more companies are looking to retrain existing staff to fill skills gaps.

The report, E-Skills Regional Gap - UK, expressed concerns about the distribution of the UK's IT and telecoms workforce, which is concentrated in the South East of England (19%), and London (13%).

However, despite the abundance of IT professionals in the South, the region is the most likely to report a skills shortage, along with Northern Ireland. Another key factor affecting availability is the large number of computer science graduates (80%) who do not enter the industry.

The report puts the number of professionals in IT and telecoms in the UK at 1.2 million. The majority work in IT and telecoms companies (39%), followed by public services (18%), manufacturing (17%), sales and leisure (13%), business services (8%) and financial services (5%).

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