ICT specialists in employment

Data extracted in October 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: January 2018.

This article gives an overview of recent developments in the demand for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) specialists in Europe. ICT specialists are defined as those who have the ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems and for whom ICTs constitute the main part of their job (OECD, 2004).

ICT has been the cause of significant changes to both methods of production and patterns of employment, and policymakers and researchers therefore feel a natural interest in the employment of ICT professionals. Having a pool of specialised ICT workers is a critical factor in ensuring a country’s comparative advantage in the development, installation and servicing of ICTs.

Figure 1: ICT specialists in Europe, 2015 (as a % of total employment)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itspt)
Figure 2: ICT specialists in the EU-28, 2005-2015 (in 1 000s and as a % of total employment)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itspt)
Table 1: ICT specialists by level of education, age and gender (as a % of the total employment of ICT specialists)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itsps) (isoc_sks_itspe) (isoc_sks_itspa)

Main statistical findings

  • Employment of ICT specialists has been largely unaffected by the uncertainty seen on global labour markets during and after the economic crisis: the employment growth rate for ICT specialists has remained on an upwards path averaging 3 % growth per annum since 2006, i.e. it was more than eight times higher than the average growth rate of total employment over the same period.
  • Most ICT specialists – 61 % in 2015 – have tertiary-level education.
  • 64 % of ICT specialists in the EU-28 are aged over 35. The proportion of ICT specialists over the age of 35 has increased by 7 percentage points since 2005.
  • The majority of jobs for ICT specialists are held by men. The proportion of women working in this segment of the labour market in the EU-28 has declined since 2005, to 16 % in 2015.

General trend in demand for ICT specialists

Figure 3: Growth rate of employment of ICT specialists and of total employment, EU-28 (%)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itspt) (lfsa_egan)

During the last decade, employment of ICT specialists in the EU-28 has resisted the effects of the downturn and of uncertainty on global labour markets, and remained on an upwards path. Growth in the employment of ICT specialists averaged 3 % over the ten-year period 2006-2015, more eight times higher than the average growth rate for total employment over the same period. While employment of ICT specialists has, similarly to total employment, evolved cyclically (see Figure 3), it never turned negative. The rapid growth in total employment of specialists in this area confirms the increasing importance of ICTs in the global economy.

ICT specialists by level of education

Figure 4: ICT specialists by level of education, 2015
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itspe)

The majority of ICT specialists in the EU-28 have completed tertiary-level education, with the proportion of workers with this level of education increasing slightly since 2005 to reach 61 % in 2015. The relative number of ICT specialists having each of the two levels of education — tertiary and post-secondary non-tertiary — varies among countries. The proportion of ICT specialists with tertiary-level education is lowest in Italy (33 %), Germany (48 %) and Portugal (51 %) and highest in Lithuania (80 %), Spain (79 %) and Ireland (78 %). Some countries have seen an increase in the proportion of ICT specialists with tertiary education since 2005, with Hungary, Slovakia and Malta, recording changes of +30, +26.3 and +25.3 percentage points respectively. In some other countries, meanwhile, the proportion of ICT specialists with tertiary education declined, the most pronounced falls being recorded in Cyprus (-9 percentage points), Germany (-3 percentage points) and Belgium (-1.9 percentage points). Given that two out of these latter three countries (Cyprus and Belgium) were in the top part of the distribution, i.e. had a relatively high proportion of highly educated ICT specialists compared to other countries, these findings could be attributed to the oversupply of highly-qualified ICT-specialised labour during the period 2005-2015.

ICT specialists by age groups

Figure 5: ICT specialists by age group, 2015
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itspa)

The age distribution of ICT specialists is assessed using two age groups: 15-34 years and over 35 years. The majority of ICT specialists in the EU-28 (64 %) belong to the latter group. Moreover, the proportion of ICT specialists in the older age group increased by 7 percentage points between 2005 and 2015, suggesting a further ageing of this segment of the European labour market. The countries that had the highest proportion of ICT specialists in the older age group in 2015 are Italy (75 %), Denmark (71 %) and Sweden (70 %). The highest proportion of younger workers (15-34 years) was found in Turkey and Malta, where they accounted for 67 % and 58 % respectively of ICT specialists.

ICT specialists by gender

Figure 6: ICT specialists by gender, 2015
Source: Eurostat (isoc_sks_itsps)

The majority of jobs for ICT specialists are held by men. There has been a 6 % increase in the proportion of men since 2005, with men accounting for 84 % of ICT specialists in 2015. The countries with the most pronounced gender inequality in 2015 were Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, with proportions of men in the ICT-specialist workforce of 90 %, 89 % and 88 % respectively. Bulgaria has the highest proportion of female ICT specialists (28 %), closely followed by Romania (27 %) and Latvia (25 %).

Data sources and availability

The data used in this article come from the secondary statistics on ICT specialists, which are derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data on employment. ICT specialists' data covers all sectors of economic activity, but does not provide any sector breakdowns. The aggregates for ICT specialists are constructed based on the Eurostat-OECD statistical definition, given in terms of International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). Data matching the statistical definition of ICT specialists is obtained from the LFS data on the basis of the occupations/education taxonomies (see reference metadata on ICT specialists for more details). The comparability of the data over time is affected by the break in the series in 2011, which occurred due to the introduction of the latest version of ISCO. LFS reference metadata should be consulted for all questions relating to the underlying primary source data.


In recent years, EU policies have given greater attention to ICT skills, and in particular to the employment of ICT specialists. The recently updated Digital Single Market strategy emphasises the need for policies designed to boost stability in European labour markets and improve the EU’s competitive position. Monitoring the employment of ICT specialists has therefore become increasingly important. The New Skills Agenda for Europe (2016) launches a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support is available to people in the EU. One of such action, Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is called to support co-operation among education, employment and industry to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills. One of the important objectives of the European employment policy is to ensure that EU workers acquire the higher-end skills needed in order to prevent the loss of key ICT jobs to other regions of the world. The Commission is bringing together Member States and stakeholders to pledge actions and to monitor progress in developing digital skills through its Digital Progress Report and the Digital Economy and Society Index.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Science, technology, digital society
Digital economy and society (isoc)
Digital skills (isoc_sk)
ICT specialists (isoc_sks)
ICT specialists in employment (isoc_skslf)
Employed ICT specialists - total (isoc_sks_itspt)
Employed ICT specialists by sex (isoc_sks_itsps)
Employed ICT specialists by educational attainment level (isoc_sks_itspe)
Employed ICT specialists by age (isoc_sks_itspa)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Excel.jpg ICT specialists in employment

Other information

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