Updated forecast of ICT labour market now expects a shortage of 526,000 ICT specialists in the EU in 2020. Release of Interim Report ‘Digital Organisational Frameworks and IT Professionalism’, including updated ICT labour market projections.

As part of a service contract for the European Commission on “Digital Organisational Frameworks and IT Professionalism”, empirica has updated their ICT labour forcast based on most recent Eurostat Labour Force Survey data and other sources of data.

The supply of IT professionals and e-Leaders is still not sufficient to satisfy the healthy demand in European industry and the shortage is expected to grow. Previous forecasts had repeatedly warned of an imminent talent gap, with varying degrees of severity coming from the statistics and market information available at the time.

Based on our previous analyses and forecasts, we have updated our "main forecast scenario" for the horizon of 2020. In addition to that, a second scenario was developed as a high growth scenario, which takes account of the unexpected recent employment growth which seems increasingly disconnected from graduate figures.

The results can be summarised as follows

·         In the moderate growth scenario, which should be considered the main forecast, we stick to the methodology used in previous forecasts. In this scenario, there is a moderate demand growth of 1.8% until 2020 which results in a workforce growth of 558,000 jobs added by 2020 – from 8.5 million in 2016 to 9.0 million in 2020 – and a structural gap (vacancy potential) of 526,000.

·         In the high growth scenario, we assume an average growth of labour demand of 3.6% throughout the years 2016-2020 and across countries. 3.6% was the average growth (CAGR) between 2002 and 2016 for ICT professionals. On the supply side, we assume that apart from the graduate entries to the labour market, there are many more “lateral entries”, i.e. people without a tertiary or vocational (domestic) ICT degree. As a result, we estimate that the IT workforce in Europe would grow from 8.5 million in 2016 to 9.5 million in 2020. The countries experiencing the fastest growth will be Poland, France and Portugal in this scenario. The excess demand or shortage (calculated as the number of open posts) according to our research would amount to 749,000 in 2020.

A forecast in 2013, which was widely taken up as a wake-up call to policy makers and industry, came to the conclusion that there might be a structural gap of up to 900,000 in 2020 (the highest estimate from six possible scenarios). Forecasts in 2017 have subsequently lowered the potential talent gap down to 500,000, owing to the increasing mobilisation of stakeholders and policy makers resulting in a better supply situation and the repeated ability of the industry to find candidates for open posts outside of the still insufficient talent pool coming from ICT studies at higher and vocational education.

Whether the vacancy potential will be at the level of 526.000 or 749,000 in 2020, we expect the steady growth of the ICT workforce which has prevailed for the last two decades to continue, and people entering the IT profession continue to come from various backgrounds other than computer science, which proves the case for the efforts to foster ICT professionalism, to which the work under this service contract aims to contribute.

The report can be downloaded here

The report has been written as part of the service contract “Digital Organisational Frameworks and IT Professionalism” - EASME/COSME/2016/016. This service contract is carried out by Capgemini Consulting, Empirica, and IDC.