UK facing IT staff shortage

The IT industry needs an image makeover, according to one recruitment expert who predicts a huge shortage of employees within a decade

Though the IT job market has picked up in the last year and now favours applicants over employers, the UK workforce is heading for a crisis which companies must address now.

Fewer women and young people are choosing careers in IT than even three years ago while at the same time the average age of workers is rising.

Bill Grubbs, COO of IT recruitment firm Spring Group, told silicon.com the result will be "huge staff shortages" in five to 10 years' time.

"The fact is there will be fewer workers and fewer skilled workers," he said.

Offshoring and outsourcing should be considered as remedies, according to Grubbs.

"[Businesses] need to set aside the emotion related to offshoring and outsourcing and bring all options to the table in order to be able to compete in the global marketplace," he said.

Promising locations for IT talent include Eastern Europe and soon China, said Grubb, once more Chinese people learn English so the language barrier is overcome.

Other options for dealing with the skills shortage include luring and retaining IT staff with "open" policies such as flexible hours and the ability to work from home, as work-life balance is becoming more important to people, said Grubbs.

The IT industry as a whole would also do well to work on an image change that would help attract young people and women.

One way to do this, according to Grubbs, would be to promote the growing importance of business skills in IT.

IT is not just for hardcore techies, anymore. "Now IT staff wear suits and need to understand business issues as much as technical issues," he said.

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