Does IT really have recession-busting powers?

A recent BCS event pondered whether IT could lead the UK out of the recession, while research from IDC and Microsoft this week suggested it has the power to lift the global economy. Fact or just well-intentioned fiction?

"I think we are. Our expectation is that we'll be out of recession by the end of the year," Timms responded.

"I think it will be an important development when it happens. There is a fair amount of uncertainty beyond this year. But the prospects for IT do look good. The economists at my new department looked at city expectations for a whole range of sectors and the conclusions from that were that the prospects for the IT sector are the strongest," he added.

"The UK continues to be a very attractive environment for business generally and we're certainly extremely successful in IT, [with] well over a million people employed in the sector. Future profitability is good. It's a very important sector in its own right and it also underpins everything else that's going on in the economy, giving it huge additional importance."

Changing tact

Hume stressed the importance of changing our focus about who we encourage into the industry.

"I absolutely agree that we need to drive the whole skills agenda," she said.

"We have to focus on broadening our technologists. People need to understand that we are a world away from the technological purists. It's about challenging what I call the technical high priests You don't need to have come right the way through a pure IT background to be the senior responsible owner for a large project or programme. What you need is the right skills and the right understanding and experience."

Hume and the rest of the industry does have a bit of an uphill struggle ahead of it in terms of recruitment as the number of people opting to study IT is declining year-on-year. However, if, as Hume, suggests, you don't need to have an IT degree in order to do well in the industry, perhaps just a better PR job is needed to redress the balance?

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