Submission from e-skills UK
e-skills UK is the Sector Skills Council for
IT and Telecoms and has responsibility for ensuring that the UK
has the technology-related skills pool to succeed in the global
We do this by focusing on the skills development
needs of three related communities:
The IT & Telecoms workforce:
almost 1.2 million people in the IT workforce (600,000 people
in the IT industry itself and 570,000 IT professionals working
in other industries), and approximately 321,000 people in the
Telecoms workforce. These are the professionals and others in
supporting occupations who design, implement and run the technology
systems on which all companies and the public sector depend.
IT users: the estimated 21 million
individuals who need to use IT for their day to day work.
Business managers and leaders: the
estimated 4 million people performing business management and
leadership roles in the UK, who need to be able to understand
and exploit the power of IT in driving competitiveness and productivity.
We believe that IT skills are vital to the future
competitiveness of the UK economy, as technology continues to
pervade all sectors and is increasingly central to businesses.
We also believe that the new ELQ policy will adversely affect
our nation's ability to achieve the necessary levels of technology-related
skills to succeed. This applies in particular to the IT and Telecoms
workforce including IT and Telecoms professionals and which is
the main area of focus of our submission.
The IT & Telecoms professional workforce
has grown continually since 1994, nearly doubling in size by 2006.
1,286,000 people are now employed in IT & telecoms professional
roles in the UK. Recent research for e-skills UK conducted by
Experian shows that employment in the IT and Telecoms professional
workforce is forecast to continue to grow, at a rate of 1.6% per
annum to reach 1,510,000 jobs by 2016. (By comparison, it is estimated
that employment in the UK across all industries will increase
by just 0.5 % per annum over the 10 year period).
To support this growth and the replacement demand
(for those leaving the sector), 141,000 new entrants per year
are required into the IT & Telecoms professional workforce.
Looking further into workforce dynamics, there
s a significant shift in the sector into increasingly highly skilled
roles. The following table shows the split of roles in today's
workforce, and the forecast for 2016.
ANNUAL GROWTH RATES, EMPLOYMENT, 2006 TO
|IT Strategy & Planning
|IT Software Professionals
|IT Operations Technicians
|IT User Support
|Line repairers/Cable jointers
IT Software professionals and IT Strategy & planning
are the highest growth occupations with the forecast growth of
2.7% and 2.6% respectively whilst the lower skills occupations
such as database clerks are set to decline.
Of the 141,000 new entrants to the IT and Telecoms professional
workforce, only about 26,700 per annum of these are expected to
come directly from education so that in consequence e-skills UK
is engaging in a major development of our strategic planning to
find new ways of encouraging more people already in the workforce
to consider entering IT and Telecoms professions. This will include
attracting many more womenas currently females make up
just 18% of the IT and Telecoms professional workforce compared
to 47% of the UK workforce as a whole.
The ICT workforce is highly qualified: 55% have a level 4
or 5 qualification compared to 28% of the UK workforce as a whole.
Yet the number of applicants to IT degree courses has been declining
from a peak of 31,000 in 2001 to under 16,000 in 2006, similar
to the level seen in 1996 and a decrease of 49% over five years.
Mathematical and Computer Sciences is the only subject area (of
26) to have had four successive years of decreases in the number
of applicants, largely due to the effect of IT degrees within
this group, and applicants to IT degree courses now make up only
3.1% of all degree applicants, a fall from 5.7% in 2002.
Analysis of applicant data also indicates a worsening gender
balance with females comprising 15% of applicants to IT degrees
in 2006 compared to 18% in 2001.
Applicants to Computer Science Courses - Subject Line1996-2006
1996-2001 Subject line G5-G8
2002-2006 Subject line G4-G7
Source: e-skills analysis of UCAS data
The UK's future competitiveness increasingly depends on the
ability to exploit IT and Communications technologies and consequently
on the presence of a suitably skilled and qualified IT and Telecoms
professional workforce. The significant and sustained growth in
the IT and Telecoms workforce with a need for 141,000 new entrants
per annum cannot be met by new entrants from education (forecast
at 26,700 per annum) and must be met largely through reskilling
members of the existing workforce and those re entering employment
after a career break, particularly women, who are seriously underrepresented
in the industry.
Given the continuing high level of growth in the IT and Telecoms
professional workforce and the decline in take up of IT related
subjects in HE, there is a pressing need to address the issue
of how to meet the growth in demand, if UK technology related
productivity is not to be compromised.
We are concerned that the ELQ policy affects mainly part
time students whose ability to pay is very limited but who are
a key part of the target market we need to attract into IT careers
if future demand for IT and Telecoms professionals is to be met,
eg women returners. We would also point out that, with increasing
off shoring of traditional entry level jobs into IT and the growth
in small company employment in the industry, the traditional professional
development routes provided by large corporate companies may be
less able to plug the education and training gap in future.
We note the safety net approach to funding SIVs and the intention
to phase this out over time which we would be extremely concerned
about. If such qualifications are strategically important and
vulnerable, we would suggest that they will continue to be so
for the foreseeable future, particularly given the decline in
take up that we have already highlighted.
We also note that SIVs can be fully exempt from the ELQ funding
cuts if the level of provision falls short of demand from employers
but that IT and Computing subjects have yet to be awarded this
status. We call for this situation to be reviewed urgently, as
the current level of provision and supply of IT and Computing
graduates is clearly insufficient to meet existing and future
demand for IT and Telecoms professionals.
We welcome the exemption of foundation degrees which we believe
have an important role to play but are concerned to note that
this exemption is also of a temporary nature.
In the light of this we urge Government to review its ELQ
policy to ensure that IT and Computing subjects are fully exempt
from funding cuts and we also strongly recommend that these subjects
are given full SIV status.