IT labour market overview

Workforce trends

IT employment is growing 4 times faster than average

In 2016 there were an estimated 1,293,000 people in the UK labour market working as IT specialists and this group accounted for 4.1% of the entire UK workforce at that time - up from 4.0% in the previous year. Indeed, the proportion of the UK workforce in IT specialist positions has increased significantly during each of the past five years as demand for workers with IT skills has continually outstripped that for workers as a whole and between 2015-16 employment growth for IT positions (4.0%) was four times that observed within the wider workforce.

Figure 2: IT specialists in the UK workforce
Click the image to enlarge it

Figure 2: IT specialists in the UK workforce
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

Growth implications

In 2016, over one third of IT recruiters had IT vacancies that were hard-to-fill

Given that IT is a core activity for all businesses and that the number of positions for IT specialists has grown at a rate well above the norm it is perhaps unsurprising that the IT sector has been dogged by reports of related skills shortages (i.e. a difficulty in finding applicants for IT positions with the required skills, qualifications or experience) for many years and in 2016, results from the ONS Ecommerce Survey suggested that amongst UK enterprises that had sought to recruit staff with IT specialist skills, 34% had experienced difficulty filling some or all of these

With such a high incidence of skills shortages within the IT labour market it could be expected that employers would seek to maximise their potential of attracting candidates to IT positions by ‘spreading their recruitment net’ as widely as possible. However, the following sections of the report show that levels of inclusion within the IT professions are generally poor and, in the case of female workers in particular - woefully low despite the fact that IT positions can be associated with generally favourable working arrangements and benefits, not least above average levels of remuneration for those choosing a career in this field.