UK faces shortfall of 33,000 IT and tech workers

21 January 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
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The UK’s workforce will have a 3.1m person shortfall by 2050 if skills shortages are not addressed

The UK’s workforce will have a 3.1m person shortfall by 2050 if skills shortages are not addressed

The UK faces a shortfall of 33,300 IT and tech workers by 2050 due to skills shortages, an ageing workforce and restrictive migration policy, according to specialist recruiter Randstad Technologies.

The UK workforce as a whole will have a deficit of 3.1m by 2050, a figure which represents 9 per cent of the required workforce.

Using employment rates from the most recent European population analysis from Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU, as a measure of demand, Randstad analysed the projected changes in UK population and working age rate  for 2050 to establish the gap between employment demand and workforce supply.

The analysis showed that with a total population of 74.5m in 2050 the UK will require a working population of 35.4m to meet demand.

However, will a pool of just 45.1m people (60.5 per cent of the population) forecast to the eligible to work in 2050, even if the employment rate matches pre-downturn levels of 71.6 per cent, an ageing population will leave the UK with only 32.3m people in employment – 3.1m short of the 35.4m required to meet demand.

Randstad also forecast the workforce shortfall across some key professions. 

IT and tech workers represent 1 per cent of the UK workforce, so assuming this proportion remains constant, by 2050, the UK will have a deficit of 33,300 IT and tech staff.

The education sector will be the worst affected with a projected shortfall of 128,000 teachers while the health care sector faces a deficit of 61,200 nurses.

The UK also faces the prospect of a 66,800 shortfall in the number of construction staff available to work by 2050.

Mike Beresford, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said: “The IT and tech sectors are vital for the overall health of the UK economy – the countries who leads the digital evolution are the ones who will recover fastest.

“With the growth of technology hubs such as Silicon Roundabout in London over the last few years we have proved the UK can be at the forefront of digital and IT progression and it’s vital we continue this trend.

“Our projections for the size of the IT and technology workforce are conservative, yet they paint a very grim picture for the UK’s economic prospects.

“Unless we can plug the employment gap, we’ll be unable to capitalise on the advance and growth we’ve achieved over the last few years and this will have serious consequences for the overall prosperity of the country.”

The IT and tech sectors are suffering shortages across many skill areas and migration is one of the key reasons for the deficiency.

Since 2007, overall work related emigration from the UK has risen 16 per cent while work related immigration has fallen 24 per cent over the same period.

Randstad said the combination of poor economic performance and changes to immigration policy have made the UK a less attractive place to work among the world’s most talented professionals.  

In order to try and prevent talented staff from moving abroad, salaries in the IT and tech industry have begun to rise.

In the next 12 months, Randstad forecast that employees with skills in IT systems and infrastructure will see the largest pay rises.

According to Randstad Technologies’ latest Salary Survey, pay for IT systems roles in London is forecast to rise by 20.4 per cent next year, while pay for those working in IT infrastructure and IT change management will see the second and third largest rises, climbing by 11.1 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively in 2013.

Beresford said: “If the UK economy is to grow and overcome the difficulties of the last few years then it requires a strong workforce capable of meeting demand.

“However, we also need to compete with other countries who are also keen to boost their IT and technological capabilities.

“Unfortunately, with a stagnant economy and crippling migration policy, the UK represents a much less attractive option for both domestic and overseas talent.

“A growing economy will not only help prevent home-grown skilled IT and technology workers from moving overseas, but combined with a sensible migration policy, it will also encourage foreign talent to consider a career in the UK.

“Without foreign skills bolstering the IT and tech workforce the sector will have to deal with a large black hole over the coming years.”

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