Microsoft’s ‘Developing the Future’ report reveals scale of growing UK IT skills shortage

The scale and speed of change caused by globalisation, coupled with a skills shortage in the UK IT industry, is not fully appreciated, according to a senior IT expert.

A report commissioned by Microsoft found that in 2005-06, only three in 10 graduates with IT-related degrees entered into an IT profession.

Moreover, only 10% went on to study for higher degrees or other qualifications; 10.3% are unemployed; 4.3% are engaged in other activities; and 3.8% are not available for employment, study or training.

Dr Martin Read, chief executive at IT specialist firm LogicaCMG, told delegates at the CBI business summit that the UK must act quickly to develop the workforce to ensure Britain remained a leading knowledge economy.

He said: “In IT services, traditional Western players face new and unprecedented competition from emerging economies like India and China. Between them, these two countries produce about 500,000 talented, well-qualified engineering and computer science graduates every year, versus the UK’s 40,000.

“Industry must increasingly take responsibility for helping to develop the skills base it requires. Business leaders will know best what skills we will need in the next 10 years or so. We need to work more closely with education and skills bodies to identify the skills requirements early on,” Read added.

Commenting on the report, Gordon Frazer, managing director of Microsoft UK, said: “We have an opportunity to harness the innovation, talent and entrepreneurship that exists, but we need to face up to some serious challenges. Chief among these is filling the growing skills gap in the technology sector before it becomes chronic.”

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