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OECD Information Technology Outlook 2010

image of OECD Information Technology Outlook 2010

Information technology (IT) and the Internet are major drivers of research, innovation, growth and social change. The 2010 edition of the OECD Information Technology Outlook analyses the economic crisis and recovery, and suggests that the outlook for IT goods and services industries is good after weathering a turbulent economic period better than during the crisis at the beginning of the 2000s. The industry continues to restructure, with non-OECD economies, particularly China and India, major suppliers of information and communications technology-related goods and services.

The role of information and communications technologies (ICTs) in tackling environmental problems and climate change is analysed extensively, with emphasis on the role of ICTs in enabling more widespread improvements in environmental performance across the economy and in underpinning systemic changes in behaviour.

Recent trends in OECD ICT policies are analysed to see if they are rising to new challenges in the recovery. Priorities are now on getting the economy moving, focusing on ICT skills and employment, broadband diffusion, ICT R&D and venture finance, and a major new emphasis on using ICTs to tackle environmental problems and climate change.

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ICT Skills and Employment

This chapter analyses ICT-related employment, focusing on the impacts of the financial and economic crisis and the recovery. Almost 16 million people are employed in the ICT sector in OECD countries, and they represent close to 6% of total OECD business sector employment. Growth in the sector has been somewhat higher than in business overall. Employment dropped in ICT goods sectors during the crisis and has mostly remained flat in ICT services. However, despite year-on-year falls of 6-7% in ICT manufacturing employment, the large declines in the downturn around 2002-03 have not occurred, and ICT-related vacancy rates were growing month on month in early 2010. ICT specialists make up around 3-4% of total employment in most OECD countries, a share that has risen consistently with demand for ICT specialist skills across the economy. ICT-using occupations make up over 20% of total employment in most countries, and have remained quite stable. This chapter highlights some areas that promise to develop new ICT employment – green ICT, “smart” applications and cloud computing – but job generation has generally tended to be slow. It is suggested that the ICT sector will continue to be a more important contributor to value added and growth than to employment, but that wider applications, for example in “smart” energy systems, buildings and transport, will begin to provide jobs throughout the economy.

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