Information economy grows twice as fast as UK average

Thursday 7 November 2013

Contractors in the IT industry are keenly aware that demand for their skills is already high and only set to rise in the coming years and technology advances. New research bears out this suggestion, as a recent study shows that the UK’s information economy grew twice as quickly as the nation as a whole between 2010 and 2011.

The statistics published by trade association Intellect, the skills council e-skills UK and the British Computer Society (BCS) show that the gross value added by the information economy has now reached as high as £72 billion - accounting for five per cent of the total in the UK as a whole. Since the figure also represents growth of five per cent over the course of that year, it indicates that the industry is performing very strongly indeed - especially compared to the two per cent rise recorded for the country overall.

Interestingly, this also means that the value added by each individual in the industry has hit an average of £99,000, well over twice the all-industry mean of £47,000. According to the study, the quality of workers in the industry is particularly high - close to two-thirds are educated to degree level, far higher than the 40 per cent average in the workforce overall. But significantly, six out of ten information economy workers are in professional positions, compared to just a fifth across the UK. As IT contractors and freelancers know, the specialist skills required to capture, interpret and manipulate data are remarkably valuable, both for their industry and the economy as a whole.

“The UK tech sector is critical to the national economy - across all industries we employ more than 1.4 million people, representing five per cent of the total UK workforce,” says Intellect’s Julian David.

“Tech in the UK sits at the heart of all kinds of activities and advances, from education to energy and from finance to fashion. This research is a timely reminder that continued economic recovery is critically dependent on digital expertise - and that the UK tech sector is well placed to lead it.”

As a result of this booming demand, companies are taking on additional staff. Between 2009 and 2012 the number of workers in the information economy industries rose by eight per cent, far above the two per cent growth in the UK more generally as the financial crisis hit.

This means that the sector now houses as many as 760,000 people, or three per cent of the nation’s workforce. They are scattered across 131,000 businesses and 138,000 local units which represent six and seven per cent of the national total respectively. Indeed, if technical specialists working in other industries are included the figure is even higher, rising to 1.4 million or five per cent of the whole. However, there is a clear issue with gender representation across the information industry - because many technical disciplines are still male-dominated, over just 22 per cent of jobs in the information economy as a whole belong to women.

By Victoria McDonnell

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