The IT industry employs nearly 5% of UK workers. Within the UK economy, over three quarters of people now use IT as part of their job role. Use of IT is particularly important for over 90% of managers, professionals, associate professionals and secretarial/administrative staff.
As the use of IT becomes increasingly important as a key driver of business competitiveness, increasing emphasis is placed upon the development of skills such as relationship management, business process analysis and design, project and programme management, business change management, systems architecture, networking, risk management and security.
What kind of Work can I do?
The most common roles for all new graduates include:
- IT consultants and planners - improve systems and structures of their client organsiation's IT systems. They advise clients on how to use IT to meet business objectives and challenges.
- IT operations technicians (network support) provide support for all communication and computer networks between and within organisations.
- IT user support technicians (help desk support) solve faults and problems. They also help clients maximise the use of software features and advise user training.
- Network/systems designers and engineers - install and maintain communication networks within and between organisations. They work to provide maximum performance and network availability for clients.
- Software designers and engineers - design, research, and develop computer software and software systems for clients. This role also involves testing and debugging existing software and systems as well.
- Web developers and producers - design and produce websites, considering layout, structure, appearance and usability, among many other factors. This role combines technical expertise with graphic design.
The UK economy will require an average of 141,000 new IT professionals every year for the next four years (Technology Counts IT & Telecoms Insights 2008, e-skills UK, January 2008).
What's it like working in this sector?
IT is a dynamic industry that is often informal, but always focused on achievement. IT graduates highlight constant change and challenges, variety, relaxed work environments, working to deadlines, working with intelligent colleagues, and a good work/life balance as features of an IT career.
Many graduates work a fairly standard day. However, in some areas the cyclical nature of projects means that extra work may indeed be necessary to meet project deadlines or to provide 24/7 support. In the games industry, long hours are pretty much the norm.
Women remain severely under-represented in the IT profession in the UK. Women make up 46% of the overall UK workforce but only 18% of people in IT are female. (Technology Counts IT & Telecoms Insights 2008, e-skills UK, January 2008)
Despite the difficulties faced by the IT industry in attracting female graduates, the opportunities for women to enter employment in the IT sector have never been greater. Women are in demand and add diversity to teams. (Inside Careers, Information Technology 2007/8, published in partnership with the British Computer Society (BCS), 2007)
Various groups exist to support women in IT. The British Computer Society (BCS) has a specialist interest group, BCSwomen, that offers a CV clinic service, career development workshops and networking meetings.
How Big is this Sector?
There are just under 900,000 people working in the IT sector in the UK and almost 600,000 working as IT or telecoms professionals in other industries. This means that nearly 1 in 20 people employed in the UK work in the IT and telecoms sector.
There are over 100,000 businesses in the UK's IT and telecoms industry, with just over 90% of these being purely in IT.
IT intensive sectors represent just over half of the UK's total Gross Value Added (GVA).
(All figures taken from Technology Counts IT & Telecoms Insights 2008, e-skills UK - The Sector Skills Council for Business and Information Technology
Where can I work?
Opportunities exist throughout the UK, although over 40% of UK IT jobs are based in London and the South East.
For more information about IT employers in the EU and abroad, see opportunities abroad