The shortage of students taking IT-related courses could soon have a detrimental effect on the UK public sector, according to the British Computer Society (BCS).
Despite the harsh economic climate, demand for entry level IT jobs is still outstripping supply and the BCS reckons that the continuing fall in students graduating from IT courses could affect the public sector's ability to compete for candidates as they struggle to match offers from private sector organisations.
"Those who can afford to raise salaries and become more aggressive about their recruitment are going to be the ones who attract the best IT graduates," said David Evans, government relations spokesman at the BCS, during an IT Skills Supply and Demand Cycle video debate.
"There is always going to be a point further down the line when this will start to affect those things that matter to us on a daily basis, like public services."
Robert Chapman, chief executive at IT training firm Firebrand Training, maintained that the problem has been created by the industry itself.
"This situation is entirely our own fault," he said. "The industry as a whole has a poor record of promoting itself. There is a perception that IT is a boring grey box in the corner, when in fact there are number of highly attractive roles that are a lot more creative than people believe."
Chapman added that many people who would not consider themselves 'IT geeks' may be very well suited to roles within the industry.
"Ask anyone if they'd like a job at Google or Facebook and they'll probably say 'yes', but these are IT companies. It's just their popular brand reputation that makes them seem cool, even to people who would otherwise dismiss a career in IT out of hand," he said.
The industry as a whole will not solve this problem until it highlights the many different IT-related professions, dispelling the negative myths and promoting the many benefits of job security, good prospects and high salaries.
"This is particularly true of the public services sector, which plays such a vital role, but will never have the popular brand recognition to play off," Chapman concluded.
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