ICT sector in EU

Growth of ICT sector

The introduction of new technologies and digitalisation is having an impact on society through changes to the way that people live, work and interact with one another. ICT has already been the cause of significant changes to both methods of production and patterns of employment within the European Union, political union of 28 European countries.

Main statistical findings

Figure 1: Proportion of ICT specialists in total employment (%) , 2016  (Source: Eurostat)

  • Among the EU Member States, Finland had the highest share (6.6 %) of its total workforce employed as ICT specialists in 2016; in the same year, at least 1 in every 20 persons employed in Sweden, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands was an ICT specialist.
  • In 2016, almost one fifth (19.6 %) of EU-28 ICT specialists worked in the United Kingdom (1.6 million persons).
  • Across the EU-28, the vast majority of jobs for ICT specialists in 2016 were held by men; the share of ICT specialists that were women was 16.7 %
  • In 2016, more than three fifths (61.8 %) of ICT specialists in the EU-28 had a International standard classification of education
  • Almost two thirds (63.7 %) of all ICT specialists employed in the EU-28 in 2016 were aged 35 years and over; the proportion of ICT specialists aged 35 and over increased by 6.7 percentage points during the period 2006-2016.

Number of ICT specialists

Figure 2: ICT specialists, EU-28, 2006-2016 (Source: Eurostat)

In 2016, some 8.2 million persons worked as ICT specialists across the EU-28. The highest number (1.6 million) worked in the United Kingdom, which provided work to almost one fifth (19.6 %) of the EU-28’s ICT workforce. Germany (1.5 million) had the second largest ICT workforce (18.8 % of the EU-28 total), followed by France (1.0 million; 12.2 %); none of the remaining EU Member States accounted for a double-digit share.

Relative share of ICT specialists in the total workforce

Figure 3: Persons employed as ICT specialists and total employment, EU-28, 2006-2016
(2006 = 100) Source: Eurostat

  • The number of persons employed as ICT specialists in the EU-28 grew by 39.5 % during the period from 2006 to 2016, which was more than 10 times as high as the corresponding increase (3.6 %) for total employment.

Across the whole of the EU-28, ICT specialists accounted for 3.7 % of the total workforce in 2016 (see Figure 3); this was 37 % higher than the share recorded in 2006.

Finland had the highest relative share of its total workforce employed as ICT specialists, as its 162 thousand persons employed as ICT specialists represented 6.6 % of total employment. Relatively high shares were also recorded in Sweden, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – in 2016, they each reported that at least 1 in 20 persons within their total workforce was employed as an ICT specialist. By contrast, at the other end of the range, ICT specialists accounted for 2.2 % of the total workforce in Cyprus and Latvia, 2.0 % in Romania and 1.4 % in Greece.

General developments in the demand for ICT specialists

Human capital in ICT is a driving force for digital and digital-enabled innovations and may be considered as crucial for the competitiveness of modern-day economies. Although this segment of the labour market is relatively small, ICT employment was relatively resistant to the cyclical nature of economic events during the most recent decade for which data are available. Indeed, as shown in Figure 3, annual rates of change for the number of persons employed as ICT specialists were consistently higher than those recorded for total employment across the EU-28 economy.

That said, the rate of change for the number of persons employed as ICT specialists in the EU-28 slowed somewhat during the global financial and economic crisis and its immediate aftermath and in 2010 there was a modest contraction of 0.2 % (compared with the year before) in the number of ICT specialists employed. There was subsequently a rebound in the number of ICT specialists employed in the EU-28, with employment growing by as much as 9.0 % in 2012.

Having slowed again in 2013 and 2014, the growth rate quickened somewhat in 2015, with 3.4 % more ICT specialists in the EU-28 compared with the year before, and this pattern was reinforced in 2016 with growth of 6.3 %, which was more than four times as high as the overall growth rate for total employment.

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