The UK is currently enjoying the fastest growth in IT jobs since the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. Nearly 720,000 people are employed in the industry as of March 2013, according to an analysis for the Financial Times of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
It is the first time since 2001 that the level of growth in IT roles has reached double figures for two successive quarters. More jobs in computer programming, consultancy and related services have been created in the past twelve months than in the six years to December 2007, when offshoring of IT jobs reached its peak.
However, with increased IT hiring, there are some areas in the industry that lack the required number of professionals, especially in cyber security. Earlier this year, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) already warned that there is a huge shortage of expertise to protect the UK’s critical infrastructure against cyber-attacks and that it could take up to 20 years to properly address this chronic skills gap.
Furthermore, data from the ONS suggests that the industry still remains very much male dominated. 72 per cent of full-time jobs in the industry, as well as 86 per cent of part-time roles, are filled by men, which means that the gender gap stays the same as it did following the dot-com boom.
One of the factors contributing to the overall rise in IT jobs has been a rapid growth in web and technology-based businesses, especially in areas such as London’s Silicon Roundabout, and an increased focus of organisations of all sizes to make IT systems more efficient.
“Even centres of tradition such as Lloyd’s of London and the UK court system want to speed up their adoption of IT,” Director at accountancy support group NoPalaver, when referring to the decision of the Ministry of Justice to invest a whopping £160m in digital technologies by 2016.
In addition, outsourcing companies, many of which are based in India, have increased their hiring in the UK, as political pressures and falling cost differentials take their toll. Tata Consultancy Services, the largest Indian outsourcer, now employs over 9,000 people in the UK, which is twice as many as it did in 2006.
“We want that number to grow, and it will grow on the back of the investments in technology our customers are making,” said Shankar Narayanan, Tata Consultancy Services Country Head.