Economy needs 300,000 digital workers by 2020 to reach full potential

UK Commission for Employment and Skills report finds a lack of digital skills is hampering the UK economy

The digital sector will need nearly 300,000 new recruits by 2020 if the industry is to reach its full potential, according to a report published today (16 September 2013).

The Technology and Skills in the Digital Industries report suggests the lack of digital skills in the UK is hampering economic growth.

The report was written by e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for business and information technology and funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). 

It reveals that new roles will be created in the future to fulfil roles which require deeper and more specialised technical IT skills such as architects, big data and security specialists, which will need to be complemented by business, sales and communications skills.

According to the report, employment growth in the sector has risen by an average rate of 5.5% between 2009 and 2012.

Nearly one fifth of all vacancies are difficult to fill due to a lack in the necessary IT skills, despite technology workers being viewed as one of the most highly qualified sectors with approximately 63% having a higher education qualification in 2012.

Qualification levels in the digital sector have been on the rise since 2002, yet last year computing graduates had the highest unemployment rate six months after leaving university.

Rachel Pinto, research manager at UKCES, explained that the digital sector contributes nearly £69bn to the economy.

She said: “Much of this is through the technology IT specialists develop and the services they provide. It is also one of the most productive sectors with a growth rate since the recession three times above average.  

"But the impact of IT specialists goes much further than this - of the total 1.1 million IT specialists in the UK just under half are employed in the digital sector, with the rest most likely to be employed in finance and professional services, manufacturing or the public sector."

Pinto said there is a clear need for employers to take ownership of the skills agenda to make sure the digital sector really thrives: “Employers need to play an active role in training the next generation of IT specialists,” she said. 


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