The IT natives are restless

By Abigail Waraker
04 May 2010 View Comments
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Recent research has shown that more than half of workers entering the UK from abroad are IT professionals, but with another study showing that most UK IT workers are considering leaving the country and working overseas, organisations could still find themselves short of skilled technicians in future.

The increased immigration is due to growing demand for IT, according to NatWest International Personal Banking, which commissioned the first study. It says demand for technology skills has been growing because downturns are a prime opportunity for business creativity and entrepreneurial activity, and this invariably leads to innovations that require some form of technical support.

While increased innovation is good news, what is less heartening is the apparent eagerness of many UK IT professionals to relocate abroad. In a salary survey carried out last autumn by recruitment firm Computer People, 70 per cent of UK IT workers were considering working abroad and 39 per cent of permanent staff were considering a change in career away from IT altogether.

More recent research perhaps explains why this is so. According to figures published this month by the Chartered Management Institute, almost 60 per cent of the UK’s IT workforce thinks the dominant management style within their organisation is negative.

If IT skills were plentiful, this negative perception might not affect the bottom line, but given the need to retain good workers, a positive working environment is essential for business innovation and success. And a skills gap will lead to an increased salary bill for CIOs chasing a limited supply of good workers. Salaries for permanent IT workers in Britain rose by two per cent over the past 12 months, according to IT headhunter CV Screen.

E-commerce development skills are in greatest demand as companies look to boost their web revenues, its research showed. Skills most in demand include PHP expertise, Java, .NET and search engine optimisation.

The same research pointed to greater mobility in the market as IT professionals feel the confidence to seek new roles that offer career prospects and in many cases a higher salary.

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