UK shortage of IT skills continues

A recent review has found that IT skills shortages are half that of 2001, with new skills in demand for 2002

Employers continue to experience a shortage of core technical skills, according to a quarterly review of the ICT (Information and Computer Technology) labour market by E-skills UK. However, the number of firms reporting IT skills shortages has halved, from 16 percent in 2001 to 8 percent in 2002.

The report pointed out that despite a depressed market for IT and Telecoms staff, the worst could be over.

Within the report, a survey by Computer Weekly and SSP of advertised ICT vacancies shows that with just one exception, the top ten technical ICT skills sought by employers have remained the same throughout the past year. The skills are:

  • C++    (Look for C++ jobs here)
  • Unix    (Look for Unix jobs here)
  • SQL    (Look for SQL jobs here)
  • Oracle    (Look for Oracle jobs here)
  • Visual Basic    (Look for Visual Basic jobs here)
  • Java    (Look for Java jobs here)
  • C
  •    (Look for C jobs here)

  • Windows NT
  •    (Look for Windows NT jobs here)

  • MS Office
  •    (Look for MS Office jobs here)

  • TCP/IP, now ranked 11th     (Look for TCP/IP jobs here)

Over the past year demand for all the "core" ICT skills reflected the decline in the number of ICT vacancies. Though large increases in demand were seen in:

  • .Net    (Look for .Net jobs here)
  • SAP    (Look for SAP jobs here)
  • ADA    (Look for ADA jobs here)
  • UML    (Look for UML jobs here)
  • SAS    (Look for SAS jobs here)
  • CRM    (Look for CRM jobs here)

JobStats monitoring of ICT positions indicate the six most popular job titles advertised between September 1999 and May 2002 as:

  • Project manager
  • Software engineer
  • Business analyst
  • Analyst programmer
  • Java programmer
  • Programmer

However demand for communications and Internet-related skills fell over the past year in line with the decline in these areas. Data from the Computer Weekly/SSP Quarterly Survey of Appointments and Data Trends shows a 32 percent fall in the number of advertisements for ICT positions, or a drop of 74,000 vacancies during Q4 '01 to Q1 '02. Over all of 2001 the decline was 53 percent. The largest decreases in advertised positions during 2001 were:

  • Internet positions down 84%
  • Networking positions down 73%
  • Technical support positions down 59%

While demand for skills has fallen it still appears that some firms are experiencing difficulties in recruiting qualified and experienced and experienced ICT staff. The Reed Recruitment Index, for example, shows that around 8 percent of firms have difficulty to recruit skilled ICT staff, although this figure is half that of 2001.

Twenty thousand staff were made redundant from ICT firms, with redundancy announcements made by virtually all the major ICT employers over the past year (such as BT, NTL, Ericsson, Phillips, Oracle, Marconi, HP, Dell, Motorola). Redundancy figures from the Labour Force Survey peaked at just over 26,000 between September -- November, dropping to 20,000 in the first quarter of Q1 2002.

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