The UK is facing a major IT skills shortage caused by a fall in the number of students taking computer-related subjects at university, a new report reveals.
Research from Microsoft, the British Computer Society (BCS) and Lancaster University Management School showed that the number of students applying for computer-related degrees has dropped by 50 per cent in the past five years.
Applications for software engineering courses have also fallen by 60 per cent, sparking fears that the UK may get left behind by its overseas rivals.
Meanwhile, demand for workers with IT skills has boomed, with the UK software industry in need of nearly 150,000 new workers each year, according to the report.
The report, which is entitled Developing the Future, has called for the government, employers and academia to work together to improve the industry's image for young people and raise its profile.
"With the same passion that young people enjoy the music players and computer games which the industry develops, they need to realise that their own futures can lie in creating the software that enables those experiences," said senior director of Microsoft's Developer Platform Group, Matthew Bishop.
Around 200,000 basic IT jobs will have been outsourced overseas from the UK by 2010, the report shows.