Skills

Qualifications held

IT specialists and those from ethnic minorities in particular are more highly qualified than other workers

IT specialists appear much more highly educated than other workers and in total 70% were thought to hold an HE level qualification in 2016 compared with just 44% of those in the workforce as a whole. Amongst IT specialists from each of the minority groups analysed the proportion holding HE awards was also higher than workers more generally though not always by comparison with their non-minority counterparts.

Figure 22: IT inclusion and the incidence of HE level educational attainment, 2016
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Figure 22: IT inclusion and the incidence of HE level educational attainment, 2016
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

Disabled IT specialists less likely to hold HE level awards

The most noticeable differences in educational attainment for IT specialists was amongst white versus non-white workers, of which 66% and 87% respectively were found to have an HE level qualification, and between disabled / non-disabled IT workers (figures of 59% and 71% respectively).

IT degrees in the workplace

Only 17% of IT specialists and 8% of female IT specialists have an IT degree

Though the possession of an IT (computer science) degree could perhaps be considered a prerequisite for employment as an IT specialist, in reality it is estimated that only around 17% of individuals working in IT positions hold a qualification of this nature - 12% at undergraduate and 5% post graduate level. The figure is still lower for IT specialists that are older (11%), or disabled (13%), or in particular amongst female IT specialists - of which just 8% are thought to hold an undergraduate/post-graduate degree in an IT related discipline.

Figure 23: IT inclusion and prevalence of IT degrees, 2016
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Figure 23: IT inclusion and prevalence of IT degrees, 2016
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

The difference between minority / majority groups holding IT degrees was most pronounced at undergraduate level and for IT specialists that were female, over 50 or disabled amongst which the proportion of workers with IT degrees was less than half that of their counterparts in each case.

Skills matching

IT specialists’ skills are poorly matched compared with other workers

By comparing the actual level of educational attainment for individual IT specialists with the average level reported by those working in such roles it is possible to develop a series of estimates showing the degree of skills matching (using education as a proxy for skill in each case) within the IT workforce.[1] Using this methodology, it becomes apparent that a lower proportion (63%) of IT specialists have skills at the level needed for their job than is the case for UK workers as a whole (68%) and amongst the minority groups discussed, the proportion was lower still (59%) with the poorest match amongst those that were disabled (55%).

Figure 24: IT inclusion and skills (education) matching, 2016
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Figure 24: IT inclusion and skills (education) matching, 2016
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

Disabled / older workers more likely to be under-skilled

Where skill levels were not matched, it would appear that for IT specialists at least there is a greater likelihood that individuals have skills at a level lower than that required (i.e. 20% of IT specialists compared with 15% of all workers) and this appears to be a particular issue amongst older and disabled IT workers in particular (25% in each case). By contrast the mismatch in skills held by IT specialists from non-white ethnic groups is primarily due to their being over qualified for work (34%).

Skills development

IT specialists less likely to receive education/ training

Given that the likelihood of skills matching is lower amongst IT specialists than amongst other workers it might be hoped that to compensate the incidence of education/ training amongst IT professionals would be above the norm, however data from ONS suggests that this is not the case and whilst 24% of workers in the UK received some form of education/training during any of the four quarters of 2016, the figure for IT specialists was lower at 22%.

The incidence of education/training reported by those from minority groups in IT roles varied little about this figure with the exception of disabled IT specialists who were notably more likely to have undertaken education / training than other workers (with comparison figures of 28% and 21% respectively).

Figure 25: IT inclusion and the incidence of education / training, 2016[2]
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Figure 25: IT inclusion and the incidence of education/training, 2016
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

Of course, not all offers of education/training planned / offered by employers are taken up by members of the workforce who may be prohibited from benefitting from such development due to work commitments, illness or other reason however again when comparing figures for education/training received by or offered to minority versus non-minority there was little difference in the trends observed and commented upon above.

Skills sourcing

Overall, IT specialists from minority groups less likely to find work from existing staff

The 2010 Equality Act legislates not only for those in work but also those seeking employment - providing a means of redress to those treated unfairly during the recruitment process either directly or indirectly. This is important for IT recruiters/employers as one of the primary means by which IT specialists are seen to find employment is through existing employees (16% of cases) and if inclusion levels are low for a specific social group of people within the firm then this could potentially have an indirect discriminatory effect upon other individuals from like groups that were seeking employment of this nature.

Figure 26: IT inclusion and incidence of securing work via in company contact (2014-2016)
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Figure 26: IT inclusion and incidence of securing work via in company contact (2014-2016)
Source: Analysis of ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey by BCS

In fact, as illustrated in the chart above, the use of existing contacts to obtain IT work is lower in each of the minority groups covered by this report than their non-minority equivalents with the one exception of older workers for whom comparative the incidences were 23% and 15% respectively for those aged 50+ versus 16-49.

[1] See data notes
[2] Individuals receiving work related education/training during the 13 weeks prior to interview.