The latest quarterly review of the IT labour market from E-Skills UK showed that 40% of workers with IT-related degrees are not presently working in the industry. Meanwhile, the number of staff in the IT and telecoms industries who have received job-related training in the previous four weeks has fallen for the third consecutive quarter.
The reduction in training among telecoms staff was most marked, down from 19% to 15% over the first quarter of 2003. The figure for IT firms dipped from 13.5% to 12.5%. The average for all UK firms was 15%.
The number of companies reporting difficulties recruiting IT staff in the first quarter also rose - from 2% to 3.5% - with staff with good sales skills hardest to source, followed by staff with good technical IT skills.
Peter Hounsome, a researcher at E-Skills UK, admitted that some of the data can look quite depressing.
"That figure of 40% is quite a concern for the industry. For the UK in general, I think it is important to turn around these people who have been trained up to enter the industry," he said. "Overall, the report shows the industry is still facing a lot of problems."
The survey showed that levels of training, pay and employment opportunities in IT continue to fall as private sector investment in the industry declines.
It identified a "slight" decline of £75m (3%) in private sector investment in IT hardware and software during the first quarter of 2003. The hardware market was hardest hit (down £66m), while manufacturing was the sector most severely affected, with investment down £74m (19%) on the previous quarter.