‘Number of over 50s in IT dwindling’

A new survey shows that the proportion of over 50s in IT is shrinking.

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Over 50s need to be encouraged to update their IT skills due to their underrepresentation in the sector, according to a new survey.

The study by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, shows that while 31% of the workforce are over 50, just 22% of those working in IT roles are over 50 years old.

The report claims that, if representation in IT were equal to the workforce ‘norm’ – there would have been an additional 119,000 IT specialists in the UK aged 50 or above, or 480,000 in total. The BCS says that things are getting worse in terms of representation.

In 2020, there were estimated to be around 13,000 unemployed IT specialists in the UK aged 50 and over, which equates to an unemployment rate of 3.4% – well above the rate for IT specialists aged 16-49 (2.2%). In 2019 this was 8,000.

Older IT specialists are more likely to hold ‘responsible positions’ with almost half (47%) having managerial or supervisory status in their job – compared with 38% of younger IT specialists. However, this is down from 52% in 2019, says BCS.

The survey notes that there is an upward trend in qualification levels with younger IT specialists much more likely to hold an IT degree than those aged 50 and above (8% versus 14% during 2020.)

Kathy Farndon, Chair of BCS Society Board, says: “The figure for over 50s working in IT is significantly lower than in other sectors, but government plans (recently outlined in the Queen’s Speech) to introduce a Lifetime Skills Guarantee, is a significant step towards addressing the digital skills gap. These plans will provide more people with access to the digital skills training they need to continue working in fulfilling careers and will help develop the skills the economy needs to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“There continues to be a significant demand for digital skills – not just for an increasing number of digital occupations, but across all occupations as a result of businesses having to digitally transform during Covid. Currently, almost 70 per cent of employers are struggling to find workers with the right skills which is costing British industry billions.”

*The full report is available here

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