Careers needing ICT qualifications and understanding

ICT is not just a subject that everyone needs to function effectively in modern society, it is a critical preparation for young people so they can make choices across a very wide range of careers that are vital for our economy.

It would be really helpful to have some researched numbers on the careers in different areas that need ICT skills and their importance to the economy. What follows are my guesstimates. If anyone can refine these please let me know.

Career areas that need ICT study at school, at the very least to enable pupils to make sensible choices of possible career paths and appropriate post-school qualifications are:

- Computer Science. This is very much the minority. I guess that out of all careers needing ICT skills computer science (inc games companies) probably amounts to no more than 5%. Even that may be a high estimate.

- IT systems. A large number of people are employed by computer, networking and telecoms companies. And this covers a large part of the ability range with huge numbers of technician jobs. Let's guess this is 20% of careers needing ICT. They need much more than computer science. See the eSkillsUK website for more info.

- Web design. There is at least one web designer in every decent-sized company in the UK. They may be called "Digital Marketing Executive" or a range of other titles, but they are web designers just as employees of actual web design companies are. Let's guess that this is 35% of careers needing ICT.

- Business applications. Behind every website that sells online there are business systems. There are the business management systems and business tools that staff in companies use, plus the CRM systems (Customer Relationship Management), stock systems in Logistics and warehousing companies etc etc. All these need to be designed and often tailored to particular companies, as well as being managed in the companies by people who know how to help staff get the best out of them. Let's guess this is another 20% of careers needing ICT.

- Then there are the creative careers where people are using creative applications at a very high level. Just looking at the Skillset website; they list Animation, Advertising, Computer Games, Fashion and Textiles, Film, Interactive Media, Photo-Imaging, Publishing, Radio and TV.  Every one of these industries needs staff with high-level ICT skills. It is hard to quantify what percentage of careers needing ICT this amounts to, as the companies are often small. But note that several of these industry sectors are areas where the UK is strong and world-leading. There are many, many thousands of jobs needing high-level ICT skills in this sector.

- Then we have the one a lot of people miss, embedded computers, which are in all sorts of products. A quick Google of "how many computers are there in a car?" turned up an answer of "50-70 ECUs in an average luxury car". Computer Science is relevant here, but this is more about inter-connection of ICT systems so a computer science qualification may not be best or enough.

And this list above is just of those areas where specific ICT post-school qualifications are needed. School should be a preparation  for life that is broader than the specific career you will follow, so we should expect many more pupils to be taking ICT courses at KS4 than just those heading to these careers. And in fact many more careers than these need people to have insight into ICT. For example, every company in the UK, from single-person businesses like plumbers and hairdressers upwards, engages in marketing, and everyone in marketing needs to understand how websites work, if only to brief website companies properly. Everyone managing a business at any level needs to understand business applications and how to solve their business problems with them. 

This makes broadly-based ICT at KS3 an essential part of the curriculum for everyone. And my guess is that at least 50% of the pupils in a school will end up in jobs that need a 'GCSE'  level of ICT understanding of at least one of the above aspects of ICT, making ICT the next most important area of qualification after English and Maths. Many more need ICT study at KS4 than need Science study (and I say that as an ex Science teacher).