NEARLY one in four IT workers want to quit their jobs, according to a survey conducted by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS).

Around 23 per cent of respondents said they intend to leave the industry for a new career.

The poll also showed that younger workers, especially new entrants to the industry, have a stronger desire to leave it.

While the poll did not say why, The Straits Times spoke to 20 infocomm professionals - and reasons such as low prestige and a poor work-life balance came out tops.

SCS' annual survey polled more than 1,700 IT professionals and students to find out what their needs are, to help it shape infocomm policies and strategies for policymakers and employers.

Other key findings showed that IT professionals and students prefer to work in multinational corporations.

Small- and medium-sized local organisations and start-ups ranked the lowest among respondents.

The results come as no surprise to some infocomm professionals, who cite the lack of recognition and prestige as key reasons for wanting to leave their jobs.

IT executive Arthur Lin, 33, said: 'IT staff are treated as back-end staff in most companies - because IT is secondary to business, we are treated like the 'help' and have to pander to people.'

He added: 'When people experience problems with their computer, they get very frustrated and speak to us very rudely.'

IT workers also bear the brunt of long hours and disruption to work-life balance.

Data manager Farah Shazana, 30, said she would leave the industry once she decides to start a family. She said: 'The time you could be spending with your family, you are either at work, working from home or waiting for a teleconference - how do I do that if I have children?'

Recruiters also say that IT workers soon tire of the fast pace in the industry.

Assistant director of corporate services at The GMP Group, Mr Josh Goh, said most IT workers who leave are software developers.

'Because they need to constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge, they may find it tiring to keep up with the latest technology,' he explained.

Low increment rates in the industry may also lead to job-hopping.

Talent specialist Christopher Lim from HR consultancy Recruit Plus said that as the starting pay in IT is reasonably high, salary rises are few and far between.

Workers might then be less motivated to work after a while, he added.

According to the Infocomm Development Authority's annual manpower survey, IT professionals here numbered 141,300 as of June last year.

But many workers are clinging on to their jobs, since there is no other viable option.

Project manager Thiam Jin Wee, 40, said: 'I was trained in IT, what else can I do? I would have to relearn from scratch and take a big pay cut - which is a big risk at my age.'