• At least 21,000 more IT and Technology staff will be needed by 2050 to satisfy rising population levels
• But steady improvements in training and recruitment mean that the sector is currently on target to meet this requirement, if current growth rates continue
The UK needs to recruit at least additional 21,000 more IT and technology staff by 2050 in order to satisfy the long-term needs of the country in line with projected population growth, according to specialist recruiter Randstad Technologies.
Previous Randstad Technologies research forecast that in order to support the predicted UK population by 2050, the IT workforce would need to be 510,000 strong and would need to grow by nearly 5,000 a year from 2008.
Thanks to strong recent growth in employment and training, the UK IT workforce is currently on target to meet this demand. The number of IT and technology staff employed in the UK has increased by 59% since 2008. In 2013, there were 489,000 IT staff employed in the UK.
But the proliferation of Tech start-ups and high growth experienced in specific areas such as big data, mobile and security across the UK may cause demand to intensify by 2050, meaning that although the IT sector is currently ahead of the curve, the sector still needs to focus on its staffing levels in order to keep up with demand.
Mike Beresford, managing director of Randstad Technologies, said
: “A lot has changed in Technology over the past five years and it’s fantastic to see that the sector has forged ahead in terms of growth and job creation. Comparatively high salaries and the strong influence of technology on our daily lives have made IT a highly desirable career path for many young people.
“But it’s far too early for the sector to rest on its laurels. IT and technology is a huge area, and while there has been a surge of employees in the sector overall, there is still a real shortage of highly trained IT professionals with the most in-demand skills. Over the next five years, we expect to see a huge growth in demand for skilled IT jobs but a decline in the number of telecoms jobs. The sector still has a long way to go before it can meet that shift in demand.”
The strong IT sector jobs market and demand for contractors in particular in recent years has lured many technology professionals back into the contractor space and prompted new people to consider this way of working. In addition, the number of UK students applying for and being accepted on computer science related courses at university rose significantly in 2013, following a plummet in all university applications in 2012 due to rising fees.
But demand for skilled IT and technology roles is also growing. London is fast becoming an influential hub for start-up technology companies in Europe and the world, thanks to initiatives such as Tech City. Between 2009 and 2012, the technology sector in London grew by 16.6%. Government and private investment in the sector has lured several major technology companies to London from global markets in the last three years, to join companies already in the capital, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and FourSquare.
Mike Beresford continued
: “As London’s silicon roundabout has grown, we’ve seen more and more young people choosing to pursue a career in IT. Increasing numbers of our brightest grads are rejecting the traditional path of heading to financial or consulting firms, instead choosing to work for start-up where they can make a real difference to those companies’ futures and perhaps be part of something that could be as a big as Instagram one day.”
“But many smaller tech firms are still struggling to find enough home-grown talent to fill these roles. Additionally, they can’t always afford the wages that corporates can pay their employees. To cope with talent shortages, many are now calling for the Government to adjust its immigration policies to allow more skilled IT professionals into the UK.”
The UK as a whole
The UK workforce as a whole is currently 268,000 employees short of the number required across key sectors to satisfy the long term demand of the country.
Despite strong recent employment growth figures, the current workforce needs to be 29,352,000 strong – 0.9% higher than the number of people currently employed in the UK – for the country to be on track to achieve the necessary workforce size by 2050.
Previous research from Randstad showed that with the UK population forecast to be 74.5m in 2050 , the number of people employed across the country would need to be 34,772,085 in order to support demand . To reach this level of employment, the number of people in work in the UK would need to grow by 146,502 per year on average from its pre financial crisis level of 28,619,000 in 2008.
Migration will play an increasingly important role in bridging the shortfall of skilled workers in the UK as the growing population is expected to age significantly over the coming decades. But the number of skilled immigrants arriving in the UK is still a third (34%) lower than before the financial crisis (2007), while the number of workers leaving the UK is 15% higher compared to pre-crisis levels.
Fulfilment is key for staff retention
The industries that are ahead of schedule in terms of workforce size are also the industries with above average levels of professional fulfilment among employees.
Not only is the IT workforce the forging ahead in terms of growth, but its employees are also the most fulfilled in the country with 73% stating that they feel fulfilled at work compared to 6% who say they feel unfulfilled professionally. Across all industries in UK, 62% of staff say they feel professionally fulfilled while 13% feel unfulfilled .
- ENDS -
 UCAS figures – in 2013, 99,165 students applied for computer science-related degree courses, with 21,710 being offered a place. In 2012, there were 89,673 applicants and 19,353 students accepted.
 Tech City annual report 2013
 ONS – Number of those aged 16-64 who are employed in the UK = 29,084,000
 2050 population projection of 74.5m from Eurostat (a 21% rise compared to 61.3m in 2008)
 This is based on a 21% rise in the number of those employed in 2008 (28.6m)
 Randstad’s Fulfilment@Work Report 2013