Politicians have been asked to do more to support the UK IT sector in order to stay competitive internationally, industry figures have warned.

The chartered institute for IT, representatives from academia and industry, said politicians should invest more in technology skills, from school to higher education, and plan ahead more strategically.

“Last year the IT industry lost 114,000 jobs and there are still shortages of around 125,000 people. It is possible in five years we won’t have an industry left if we keep haemorrhaging jobs,” said Dr Jon Hall, Senior Computing Lecturer at the Open University.

“We see growth in places like India and others you wouldn’t imagine because their governments are spending a lot of money training people up. It’s because they are investing. It’s because of schools,” said Melindi Britz, Senior Manager at IT trade association CompTIA.

The panellists welcomed the government’s IT apprenticeship scheme, which includes cyber security and software testing. They continued to say however, that there needs to be a more strategic vision for the future around how to support the IT sector and make sure the employment market has the skills it needs.

“One of the best things a politician could do is an A-Level in computing. Sit in the classroom, get the books out, do the work and see just how poor or how good that education is,” Hall said.

“It’s not just buying a few computers for schools,” Capita IT Professional Services coach Stephen Allott added.

“Politicians should play more of a coordinating role, bringing together the academic and business worlds and getting them round the table,” Dr Arosha Bandara, Senior Computing Lecturer at the Open University, said. "They need to “work together to find right balance between long-term skills and more fast-moving, immediate needs, and specific technical abilities required by the industry."