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Exploring tech jobs and transformation in the UK

Executive summary

The tech labour market in the UK has rebounded from Covid-19. Demand for tech jobs was 42% higher in June 2021 than at the same time in 2019.

During the uncertain times faced by most people over the last 18 months, technology has been an enabler for individuals, companies and communities. It has facilitated new ways of working, and kept the economy buoyant. Tech has also been an important source of job creation as we return to a sense of normality. Nevertheless, we are not returning to the economy, or the labour market that we left in 2019.

More so than ever, tech is an enabler for broad based economic growth. Venture Capital (VC) investment in the first half of 2021 exceeded any annual records to date with over $18bn raised by pioneering tech firms, nearly 3 million people work in the digital tech economy - reinforcing the role played by tech companies as distributors of wealth through work opportunities and circular investment, and jobs are being created in all parts of the UK, fuelling the levelling up of towns and cities across the nation.

So, why focus specifically on jobs and skills? We hear a lot about investment into tech companies in the UK, much less about the jobs being created as a result of spend down on money raised. This report explores exactly that - focusing on tech jobs as an input to, and outcome of growth, transformation of the labour market and making sense of burgeoning demand for talent in the tech economy.

Thanks to our data partner, Adzuna, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for their support.


The number of advertised tech jobs in H1 2021 is 42% higher than pre-pandemic levels

The number of advertised tech jobs in the first half of 2021 has outstripped that of pre-pandemic levels (H1 2019). The patterns of advertised tech jobs on a monthly basis show a similar trend across all years, from 2019 and 2021 - dipping slightly from an early year surge in hiring to late Spring, before picking up again into the Summer months.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)


Tech vacancies make up a higher proportion of all vacancies in the UK post-pandemic, at 13% in H1 2021, compared to 12.3% over the same period in 2020

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

The proportion of all vacancies that tech represents has been steadily climbing over recent years, reflecting trends seen in the proportion of filled jobs in the labour market. One reason for a recent increase in the proportion of tech jobs advertised is likely to be the rate at which the tech economy has recovered from the pandemic versus other industries. The resilience shown by vacancies in tech in the chart below further demonstrates the importance of tech through the last 18 months to the vitality of the UK economy.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)


The average tech salary is up to 50% higher than the average for all vacancies in the UK, and is increasing, whilst the average salary for all jobs in the UK has decreased in 2021

Not only do tech jobs offer a salary premium of up to 50% on all advertised jobs in the UK, the gap is widening between tech and the rest of the labour market. This may be an indicator of the relative value of tech roles in the labour market, but flags a potentially concerning trend, a polarisation of tech and non tech earning potential.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

Tech jobs offer better paid opportunities than teaching, engineering, logistics and trade and construction.

Of the jobs categories shown below, tech represents 78% of roles in salary band £100-150k, and 57% of those roles paid between £50-70k. However, as seen, tech is not as well represented as engineering in the £30-50k bracket, or any other jobs category in the £0-30k bracket. On the one hand, this may evidence the higher earning potential of tech roles - starting at a higher salary, on the other hand, it may highlight a dearth of entry level jobs for lower paid, early career prospective employees.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)


Strong employer demand for tech jobs is an important factor in fuelling the levelling up of UK nations and regions

Vacancies being advertised are rising rapidly month on month in 2021 across all nations and regions of the UK. Most notably, East of England, Northern Ireland, South East England and the East Midlands clocked growth rates over 12.4%, the top four month on month growth regions in the UK.

RegionTotal Vacancies in June 2021% Change (month on month) in number of vacancies
East Midlands70,30712.41%
Eastern England103,22413.89%
North East England23,63111.58%
North West England106,19712.02%
Northern Ireland7,70712.43%
South East England200,56714.50%
South West England102,44311.91%
West Midlands90,92911.34%
Yorkshire And The Humber68,36610.07%

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

However, it is pivotal to consider employer demand for jobs and skills alongside the stock of people working in tech, and provision of talent. The table below summarises the tech jobs and skills landscape across UK clusters.

UK ClusterTotal Digital tech sector jobs (ONS, Tech Nation, 2019)Unicorns (Dealroom, 2021)% UK Digital tech jobs (ONS, Tech Nation 2019)Total tech openings (Adzuna, Tech Nation, 2020)City employment (ONS, 2020)% Jobs in Digital Tech sector (ONS, Tech Nation, 2019-2020)Median Salary - all Tech roles (Adzuna, Tech Nation, 2020)Digital Tech Salary vs City Average (Adzuna, Tech Nation, 2020)Higher Education Institutions (UniRank, 2021)% Digital Occupations in the Digital tech sector of all digital economy jobs% Digital Occupation outside the digital tech sector of all digital economy jobs% Non-digital Occupation in the digital tech sector of all digital economy jobs

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2020; ONS 2019; Dealroom, 2021, UniRank, 2021)

Preston, Cardiff and Edinburgh top the charts for change in digital tech roles advertised from 2018 to 2020

  • The proportion of advertised digital tech roles across UK cities are increasing year on year (2018 - 2020). In 2018, across these key cities - 19% of all advertised roles were tech roles. In 2019 this increased to 20% and in 2020 to 23%
  • Key cities with a noticeable increase are Preston, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Newcastle
  • London, Peterborough, and Glasgow have all had a 25% increase in advertised tech roles
  • London offers the highest median salary at £55,000, followed by Edinburgh at £41,250
UK CityJob openings 2020Dig Tech Job openings 2020% dig tech role 2020% dig tech role 2019% dig Tech role 2018Median dig tech salary 2020Median dig tech salary 2019Median dig tech salary 2018Median salary across all roles 2020Median salary across all roles 2019Median salary across all roles 2018% change from 2018 (dig tech roles)

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)


Close to 3 million people in the UK work in tech

(Source: Tech Nation, ONS, 2019)

From just over 2 million people in the digital tech economy (including all jobs in the tech sector, as well as tech jobs in the economy more broadly) in 2005, there has been close to a 50% increase in jobs. Tech has become an evermore pervasive part of the modern economy, enabling transactions and communication at what would have been unforeseen speeds just a few decades ago.

Not only is tech contributing heavily to the overall health of the UK labour market in a meaningful way, the employment opportunities offered are manifest across the country. The Tech Nation Report 2021 details those people working in the tech sector alone in 2019 - and intimates that across nations and regions, tech jobs are contributing to the levelling up of local economies, and, in turn, the quality of life that people in those places might have - as illustrated in the previous section on advertised salaries.

Over 36% of jobs in the digital tech economy are in non tech occupations, like HR, Legal, Finance and Sales

These roles complement and drive forward the performance of growing tech firms, and sit alongside technical roles in tech companies, which make up just over 30% of jobs. 33% of jobs in the digital tech economy are tech roles that sit outside of the tech sector, for example, a software developer working at a bank, or design studio.

Together, these groups of jobs for the digital tech economy, and engine for growth in the UK economy which inherently relies on the intermeshing of tech and non-tech roles.

(Source: Tech Nation, ONS, 2019)


Software Developer is still the number one sought after role, accounting for 9% of all advertised tech jobs

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

The chart above shows salary levels for a range of top advertised tech roles for UK cities. As might be expected, median salaries are high in cities like London, Edinburgh, and Cambridge. Yet, with increasing geographical flexibility offered to employees, and burgeoning adoption of roles and processes to facilitate remote working, it is likely that the UK sub-national salary landscape will continue to shift over coming months.

 Software DeveloperProject ManagerEngineerJava DeveloperBusiness AnalystFront End DeveloperDevops EngineerNET DeveloperFull Stack DeveloperConsultantIT System Architect
Newcastle£39,797£40,000£36,750 £42,500£34,500£47,000£32,500£42,500£52,500£54,300
UK median benchmark£50,000£50,000£54,000£60,000£47,500£47,439£60,000£45,000£50,000£62,500£72,500

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

Analysis of job advertisement data shows non tech roles are also important for delivery of tech products/services. From 2018 - 2020, roles such as Project Managers, Business Analysts, Consultants have been a top ten in demand role in the UK.

There are cities within the UK that offer a higher salary than the median salary across the UK. For example, these roles include:

  1. Devops Engineer (London and Reading)
  2. Project Manager (London, Cambridge, Preston, Edinburgh)
  3. Business Analyst (Oxford, Cardiff, Reading, London)
  4. IT System Architect (Oxford, London, Edinburgh, Bath, Reading)
  5. Front End Developer (London, Reading, Peterborough)

Front End Developers and Data Scientists, have seen the highest increase in salary over the three year 2018 - 2020, at 34% and 31% respectively

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021) 

Advertised Role201820192020% change 2018 - 2020
Front End Developer£35,286£41,536£47,43934%
Data Scientist£45,714£52,446£60,00031%
Software Developer£39,430£43,601£50,00027%
Full Stack Developer£40,964£45,633£50,00022%
Devops Engineer£50,500£54,295£60,00019%
IT System Architect£63,857£71,839£72,50014%
Java Developer£55,000£57,500£60,0009%
NET Developer£42,500£42,500£45,0006%
Project Manager£48,230£50,000£47,500-2%
Business Analyst£48,500£47,500£47,500-2%

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

Tech skills are high in demand across a range of roles. We analysed the skills employers sought across tech roles, by the number of times it occurred across job advertisements.

For a Data Scientist the top twenty skills in demand are shown in the chart below.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)

Machine learning, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Statistics are among the top skills, with Python listed as a top five ‘Data Science’ skill.

For an ‘IT System Architect’ the top twenty skills in demand are shown in the chart below. Architecture, Amazon AWS as well as Business and Data Management tend to be the top skills sought by employers.

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)


London is the top ranked city for cost of living versus salary for tech roles

London is followed by Birmingham, then Glasgow in the UK tech cost of living city rankings. Cost of living in London dropped from 2020 to 2021, whilst in other cities like Birmingham and Liverpool it increased marginally. However, in most UK cities below, salary levels rose - changing the complexion of the landscape for affordability as a tech worker.

City RankClusterCost of living index, 2019Cost of living index, 2020Cost of living index, 2021Median salary across dig Tech roles

(Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, Numbeo, 2021)

Note: The cost of living takes into account the average expenses for a four person family.



The median salary offered for Senior tech roles (£55,000) is twice that of junior tech roles (£27,500)

The table shows the Junior versus Senior salary offering for top tech roles. Senior Software Developers and Data Scientists earn twice the amount of their Junior counterparts.

 Software DeveloperData ScientistBusiness AnalystFront End DeveloperIT System Architect
Median Salary Junior roles£27,500£35,000£28,281£26,000£37,500
Median Salary Senior roles£55,000£70,000£55,000£58,161£70,000

(Source: Adzuna, 2020 *Seniority data is available for approx 30% of advertised roles)

There is an increasing demand for senior levels across tech roles. The learning curve for roles such as a Data Scientist and a Software Developer is quite steep, we can assume this is why senior roles are sought as well as general business development plans.

 Software DeveloperData ScientistBusiness AnalystFront End DeveloperIT System Architect

(Source: Adzuna, 2021 *Seniority data is available for approx 30% of advertised roles, % of junior - senior roles)


Hyperlocal demand

Whilst it is important to take a UK wide lens to the picture of tech jobs and skills, it is also essential to understand the hyperlocal picture. In the UK, due to small samples in many sub-city locations, it can be difficult to get a granular picture of the jobs on offer. More work is required to raise awareness of the jobs that may exist on their doorstep. This is a start.

  • The proportion of tech roles in Camden are less than half that of London as a whole
  • The salary for tech roles across the three boroughs in London is higher than that of the national average
  • Salford offers a higher salary than Manchester, and Solihull offers a higher salary for tech roles than Birmingham
Sub City level dataNo. all advertised rolesNo. advertised tech rolesMedian salary tech roles% tech roles
City of Salford64471126£37,50017%

 (Source: Tech Nation, Adzuna, 2021)




Over 17million rows of job advertisement data were analysed using data from Adzuna to understand and evaluate the current health of tech, by looking at employer demand for tech jobs. But also how employer demand for tech jobs were affected by the pandemic.

There were 29 categories of job advertisements from construction jobs to healthcare to legal. Data from the years 2020 and 2021 (January to June) were analysed. The median salary was used to ensure figures presented in the report were not heavily skewed towards more senior higher paying tech roles.

Office for National Statistics (jobs)

To measure the total number of tech and tech-enabled jobs across the economy, we used data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Population Survey (APS). This is a survey-based sample of the UK population – on individual people rather than businesses. To get UK-wide data on people working in tech jobs from the survey, we have to make sure that the sample of people reflects the broader UK population – so we have to use multipliers from the ONS.

But this kind of analysis does not measure the number of direct jobs created by digital tech companies. To understand the impact and benefits of digital tech we need to have reliable data not only on the number of tech jobs across the economy but also performance and productivity indicators for the sector itself.

To do this, we use official data from the ONS Business Structure Database (BSD), which we also use to look at the performance of tech companies. This methodology allows us to have refined data that can be relied upon as the most accurate count of direct jobs created by the digital tech companies across the country.

The numbers are quite different in some cases. This is because one analysis looks exclusively at people working for digital tech companies, while the other looks at people working in tech jobs across the economy.

This report presents two different sets of stats on employment. This means that the economy-wide numbers should not be compared to the sector-wide ones. But we have used this year’s method to look back over time.  If you want to compare employment in your local area, all the data you need is in the 2018 Tech Nation report.

The new 2019 analysis is based on a comprehensive look at all UK businesses that are PAYE or VAT registered.This means that using BDS data will provide us not only with the number of direct jobs created by tech companies but also helps us understand the performance of these companies. Viewed together, the two sets of data will help us understand all people working in digital tech.

The data on digital tech companies also contains financial information, as well as employment. This means that we can have reliable data on productivity. To get a true picture of jobs in digital tech, we need to look at performance, as well as quantity of jobs – this cannot be obtained from the APS alone.

Digital tech jobs – includes all people working in digital tech occupations, irrespective of the industry. For example, a software developer working in a retail company. (Source: ONS Annual Population Survey, Sept-Sept 2018-2019)

Digital tech jobs in digital tech – includes only people working in digital tech occupations in the digital tech industries. For example, a software developer working in a web development firm. (Source: ONS Annual Population Survey, Sept-Sept 2018-2019)

Jobs in digital tech – includes all people working in digital tech industries, including non-digital jobs. For example, an accountant working in a web development firm. (Source: ONS Business Structure Database Sept-Sept 2018-2019)


Numbeo’s cost of living index was used to put salary offerings relative to the City in which it was being offered.

Their methodology is here:

As the method used by Numbeo is a linear rank, the report includes overall ranking scores for tech clusters focused on and for roles.

To get an overall rank of the respective clusters and for each role, the average salary offered for digital technology roles was divided by the cost of living index.