Boost IT, boost UK economy by £35 billion

Making full use of technology could help boost the UK economy by 35 billion over the next ten years, a report by e-skills UK has claimed.

But fully-exploiting the possibilities of the IT and telecoms sectors to help improve productivity will require a stronger skills base, better adoption of tech among smaller firms, and more funding for innovation, the organisation has said.

The chief executive of e-skills, Karen Price, said: "The research evidence is unequivocal: in today's increasingly fast moving global business environment, IT and telecoms provides the engine of future growth and the key to increasing productivity and competitiveness."

She said that half of Europe's productivity gains in recent years can be attributed to investments in IT, and that related sectors already make up over 50 billion - some five per cent - of the total UK economy. There are 1.5 million people working in IT and telecoms in the UK, about one in 20 jobs.

The IT and Telecoms Insights 2008 report also said that jobs in the IT sector are expected to grow at fives time the rate of the UK average - but such growth is threatened as fewer young people are studying related subjects. The related sectors will require 140,000 new professionals each year, the research found, half of which will be transferring from other occupations. One in five will be recent graduates, the study said.

Such skills are becoming ubiquitous across all types of industry, with over three-quarters of the UK's workforce needing IT skills of some sort. Despite the demand, just 18 per cent of the IT workforce is female - a drop from 22 per cent in 2001, the study said.

Price called for more investment to take advantage of IT: "Technology enables UK businesses to secure new markets, improve productivity and performance and attract high value-added business and investment to the UK. To safeguard the long term success of the UK we must maintain the strength of our thriving IT and telecoms sector and world leading IT-enabled sectors such as financial services and biotechnology. We cannot achieve this without widespread investment in skills."