The lack of people over the age of 50 working in the tech sector shows the age group needs to reskill, a study suggests.
The report from BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT found that while 31% of the workforce is aged 50 and over, just 22% of those working in IT were over 50.
BCS said this was well below the level of representation considered “normal” and warned it was another sign of the digital skills gap – where not enough workers are skilled in the digital technology that is now commonplace in modern working life.
The institute said the need for digital skills had only increased during the coronavirus pandemic as more firms relied on remote working.
“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,” Kathy Farndon, chair of the BCS Society Board, said.
“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% of employers are struggling to find workers with the right skills, which is costing British industry billions.”
According to the BCS study, if representation in the IT sector was equal to levels in other sectors, there would be an extra 119,000 IT specialists in the UK aged 50 and above.
It also showed that IT specialists aged over 50 were more likely than their younger colleagues to be unemployed – it is estimated that in 2020, around 13,000 IT workers over 50 did not have a job, an unemployment rate of 3.4% – well above the 2.2% rate for younger IT specialists.