Technology sector overview
Published: 05 Sep 2016 By Natacha Cullinan
Introduction to the ICT sector
The ICT sector (or otherwise known as the information and communications technology sector) is arguably one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK. With a recent boom in start-ups, coupled with the UK’s large investment in technology in the past few years, this sector is awash with jobs to suit graduates, apprentices and interns.
The ICT sector encapsulates unified communications, pulling on the integration of telecommunications, computers, software, audio-visual systems and storage. In short, this sector incorporates technologies that help transfer information electronically. This would include storage, access to cloud computing systems, transmission of files, and manipulation of information using technology.
Worth over £58 billion, the UK’s ICT sector employs hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Although there are obvious recruitment hotbeds in big cities, this industry isn’t just focused on city dwellers, with many roles scattered up and down the country. In fact, this sector is heavily reliant on consultants and freelancers, meaning it could take you just about anywhere.
Which areas could I work in?
The ICT sector is broad – don’t just think it’s about computer heads and data aficionados. You could be working in a number of fields, depending on your skillset and your interests. Data analytics, software building, computer engineering, web design and web development, and content management are just a handful of the areas actively recruiting.
The ICT sector covers services, manufacturing, support and management, business development and marketing, and data management. You could be providing a service to a customer or business, or you could be working on the creation side, building products, and technology platforms instead. IT management and support could also be a potential avenue for you too. Sales and marketing roles in the ICT sector have grown substantially as new hardware and software systems have entered the market.
The services side of ICT is focused on providing users with the tools to share information using wire, radio, visual output or electronically. Telecommunication networks which provide you with your mobile phone coverage, your TV and internet connection are common examples. You send emails via an email provider, and you store information on a cloud system – this sub-area of ICT is responsible for these activities.
To allow your Facebook updates to happen, your smartphone and your tablet to exist, and your wireless speakers to work, you need engineers. Manufacturing in the ICT sector involves the creation, building and testing of materials (either physical or digital) to enable information sharing to occur. Think about this very website: the way the articles are displayed, the job search function, the working URLs… all of this would not happen were it not for the computer software it works on. A web developer builds a platform, using a particular piece of software, to make a web designer’s vision come true. The result is what you see here, and what you can see across the internet. When you type up your essay, something needs to tell your computer the letters you are picking on your keyboard should appear in a document. The apps you have on your phone or on your tablet have been built by app engineers; the games you play on your console or laptop have been constructed by games developers. These are all part of ICT manufacturing.
ICT support and management
Support and management – particularly project management – are also key areas in this sector. Some companies, especially large ones, may hire their own support and management personnel; others may employ agencies. When a new website or app needs to be scoped, you will employ a project manager to oversee the build – liaising with web designers and web developers to ensure it is built on budget and within deadline. Your laptop may need an upgrade, or you may have problems syncing your desktop to the cloud service – this is where ICT support networks come in. You could be dealing with someone virtually or face-to-face, helping them set up their equipment or access data online.
Sales of ICT products such as CRM (customer relationship management) and CMS (content management system) hardware, as well as program software, which includes the likes of Microsoft Office tools, are on the up – and show no signs of stopping. As quickly as new apps and tools land on the market, sales teams (also known as business development teams) are on the case to pitch to new clients and businesses. If you’re working in ICT sales, you’ll have to know your product back-to-back, as well as your customer base. The exciting aspect of selling ICT products means that you can have a bit more input when it comes to new features, as you’re working with clients all over the globe with all sorts of needs for their business.
ICT marketing takes on a lot of different shapes and sizes; you could be working for a service provider or using a service provider to do your job in social media, content creation and promotion, and data management. As companies are becoming more and more aware of their presence and networking online, this area of ICT is awash with jobs for creative and analytical types. The added advantage for young careers seekers is the fact that you’ll be familiar with social networks and the internet, and it is likely you will be aware of trends, new programs and apps and digital marketing campaigns more so than any other generation prior – giving you a great advantage.
ICT data and data management
If you’ve wondered how your personal information gets shared, who has access to what, and how this data is managed by organisations, this could be the area for you. Areas like cyber security, which stop hackers from getting hold of your personal information, are experiencing a boom. We now possess more data in storage than we can physically analyse: Big data is the term used to describe this current technological advancement. Tools and systems are being built this very second to take care of this, but people are needed to analyse trends and inform businesses of changes and potential threats. As more and more data gets shared online, developers and software engineers are working hard to put into action new strategies to combat cybercrime. Contact databases need to be stored securely and used ethically by organisations, in keeping with current laws and protection acts. Acquirement and management of data is one of the fastest growing areas of the ICT sector.
Which jobs exist in the ICT sector?
There are many different avenues you could explore in the ICT sector. Web development and programming would suit those interested in engineering and coding. App developers, coders, web developers, software programmers, web and user experience designers are all part of this clique.
If you’re more people-centric and enjoy working within teams, IT management, help and support, as well as marketing and sales could be just the ticket. Social media managers, content producers and IT project managers are just some of the roles which fall under this category.
Data analysis and management is best suited to people with an analytical mindset, and who are able to interpret patterns and trends in a cohesive manner to help make important business decisions. Typical jobs include CRM managers, database management executives and analytics managers.
Legal roles, as well as HR and finance positions, are also extremely prominent in ICT, which shows how diverse the sector really is. With new technologies popping up all over the UK, this sector shows huge increases year on year with recruitment – and looks likely to carry on!
Who recruits in the ICT industry?
Perhaps the question should be: who doesn’t recruit in the ICT industry? And it doesn’t just stop there. As companies move further towards online communications and information sharing, you could be working in a different sector altogether, but as a business’ ICT expert.
Big corporate ICT companies include the likes of Apple, Siemens, BT and Capgemini, to name but a few. Small to medium-sized agencies working in digital communications and design are all over the UK, with many outside of London. Click Consult, Precedent and Box UK are just a tiny sample of companies working in the field.
And remember, finance, HR, retail brands, healthcare, and education are also actively recruiting, along with other sectors, for passionate ICT interns, apprentices and graduates. So don’t stop short, do your research to see who is recruiting.
What are the pros and cons of working for ICT corporates?
- Possibility of moving across many different departments.
- Constant learning as new trends and products appear on the market.
- You can work virtually anywhere – both in terms of location and in terms of sector as you may be contracted out.
- Bigger jobs, more clients, and sometimes tighter deadlines.
- Your team could be split, making communication difficult at times.
- Being contracted to work away from home could be hard on you.
What are the pros and cons of working for smaller ICT companies?
- More job opportunities as there are more ICT SMEs.
- Agency life is big on company culture – you’re bound to find your perfect fit.
- Social opportunities and a more relaxed dress code.
- Workload could be heavier, with smaller teams.
- Less career progression in some agencies, due to size.
- You could be working on less glamorous projects.