UK IT profession reaches all-time high, but training is reducing

The UK IT profession is as big as it has ever been, according to the latest research from E-skills UK, but fewer IT professionals are receiving training.

The UK IT profession is as big as it has ever been, according to the latest research from E-skills UK, but fewer IT professionals are receiving training.

In the last three months of 2010 there were just over one million IT professionals in the UK, accounting for 4% of the nation's total workforce.

Although the figure, which is the highest ever recorded, is positive, the IT skills council expressed fears that the IT sector is not investing enough in skills. E-skills revealed that only 23% of IT staff had received education or training in the past 13 weeks, compared with an average of 27% across all sectors. IT professionals at small companies were worst hit by reductions in skills and training investment, with only 15% having received training in the past 13 weeks.

Karen Price, CEO of E-skills UK, welcomed the news that the IT sector continues to make a major contribution to employment growth in the UK, but said more investment in training and skills is needed. "More needs to be done to make fit-for-purpose and affordable training available to employers, and particularly to small businesses," she said.

Price added that E-skills UK and employers are working to achieve this through the National Skills Academy for IT.

IT jobs rise in London

Separately, recruitment company ReThink Recruitment has reported that a massive 40% of new IT jobs created in the UK in June this year were in London. Before the recession in June 2008, London accounted for 34% of all IT jobs created in the UK, according to ReThink.

The company said the recovery in the finance sector, alongside investments the East London technology hub, are driving recruitment in London.

Michael Bennett, director at ReThink, said London is quickly emerging as a major hub for high-tech IT start-ups - with several heavy hitters, including Cisco and Google, recently investing in Shoreditch. "In comparison with other high-tech centres, London still offers relatively cheap rents and has consequently attracted very specialised tech firms looking to recruit qualified IT candidates," he said.

"Venture capital firms - which are key investors for most of these tech start-ups - are increasingly finding that investments in Silicon Valley are often overpriced. With speculative talk of a second dotcom bubble common, many are deciding that Europe, and London in particular, is a safer place to invest," said Bennett.

He added that recovery in the finance sector, coupled with a need to meet new regulations, is driving IT job creation in London. "London has a large number of banks and financial services firms headquartered in the city, and many of these responded to the downturn by cutting IT departments. When business volumes increased, so did requirements for qualified IT staff.

"Regulatory pressure and greater reporting requirements are also forcing banks and other city firms to strengthen their compliance and risk management IT systems. Many are restructuring their front office IT systems to ensure greater transparency, which could explain this on-going demand," Bennett said.

Computer Weekly has launched an information resource called "IT Works" to empower the digital economy through IT skills and training (i.e. help you get a job).

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