In groundbreaking new research, our analysis shows that 2.1m people are employed in the UK’s digital tech sector, and in five UK cities – Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Belfast and Newcastle – more than 10% of the population are employed in digital tech.
Using data from the ONS, jobs website Adzuna, and cost of living database Numbeo, in this report we shed light on the opportunities the digital economy is creating across the country.
1.7m digital tech economy job openings across the UK in 2018
Tech is becoming a major employer across sectors in UK’s biggest cities
230,000 non-tech jobs in the tech sector advertised in 2018
Tech provides roles with salaries on average 10% higher
Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a tech business and this new data shows the success is bringing good jobs and helping spread prosperity across the country. We are determined to seize the future opportunities for technology to improve people’s lives by investing heavily to boost the nation’s digital skills.
“Alongside the fantastic talent coming from our world-leading universities, we have revamped the computer science curriculum, announced new funding to support thousands of AI and data science training courses, are rolling out a new National Retraining Scheme, and are investing £84 million in a new centre for computing education led by tech experts.”
Starter for 10 (per cent)
In five UK cities – Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Belfast and Newcastle – more than 10% of the population are now employed in the digital tech sector. In Cambridge, half the working population are employed in digital tech, while in Reading it is a third.
Bang for buck
In Edinburgh, 48,118 people are employed in the digital tech sector on salaries almost 15% higher than average, while in Reading there are 100,507 people employed in the digital tech sector on salaries that are 8.11% higher. In Belfast the rapidly growing digital tech sector now employs 60,000 people, with salaries that are 17% higher than the national average.
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, said: “I welcome the fantastic findings from Tech Nation that Belfast is the best place to be a skilled tech worker outside London.It also has the highest growth in digital job advertisements in the UK. Tech vacancies in Belfast grew by 120 per cent from 2015 to 2018.This shows that the industry is booming and companies are keen to tap into the tremendous talent in the region. These findings show that Northern Ireland is a great place to start and grow a tech business and invest in world-class talent.”
The UK’s fast-growing tech hubs are adding jobs at a rapid rate – with almost 1.7m positions advertised during 2018 across the UK’s 12 biggest tech centres. Outside London, the cities with the most tech openings were Manchester with 164,000 roles available, with huge demand in Ecommerce and marketing, and Leeds, with 88,000 job openings.
Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, said: “With over 2.1 million people working in digital technology in 2018, the tech economy is bigger than sectors like hospitality and construction. However, increasingly, those lines are getting blurred, with technology jobs crossing over into the mainstream sectors like financial services and health, helping them evolve and stay competitive and productive. As countries transition to network based economies in a globalised future, the need for tech jobs and skills is reaching a generational high point, which is why this report is so timely and important in highlighting how the demand for tech skills continues to evolve and grow over time across the UK.”
When cost of living is taken into account, cities including Leeds and Belfast are even better places to be looking for work than London. By salary and cost of living our analysis show that a data scientist would be better off working in Leeds than in London and the best place in the country to find a job as a software developer or a full stack developer, is in Belfast, where demand for tech roles has risen by 120% in the past four years.
The UK’s fast-growing clusters around the country, particularly Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast are competing with London and the South East for people with high-level skills, and are paying to get them. For those looking for work as an analyst, Edinburgh is the best place to work; while a Python developer is best off in Glasgow and an IT system architect would be best off taking a job in Cardiff.
Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon David Mundell MP said: “Scotland’s tech sector is thriving, with numerous innovative companies that are based here making major contributions in artificial intelligence, fintech and gaming. I am pleased to see Edinburgh is one of only two places in the UK that can command higher salaries than the London average, with the median salary for tech roles more than £40,000. The UK Government continues to champion Scotland’s booming tech sector, supporting its growth and ensuring it continues to offer high quality jobs.”
Companies of all sizes are hiring staff with broader business skills including consultants, accountants, PRs and marketeers. The report reveals a strong need for HR and legal professionals across the digital tech sector. In some cities, as many as a third of those jobs advertised in the tech sector are for people in non-tech roles, which gives an indication of how fast-growing tech companies are rapidly becoming larger organisations that require many different roles and professionals.
Matthew Moulding, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Hut Group, said: “The skills that we have here in the North West have helped us to build a resilient businesses that employ thousands of people. In 2019 we will continue hiring and building our company, proving that the North West is a great place to grow a tech business with global reach.”
This research backs up the findings of the recent Tech Nation Report 2019 which revealed that the UK digital tech sector was punching well above its weight. This report found that the total venture capital invested in UK tech last year reached £6.3bn – higher than any other European country – with a third of the continent’s unicorn companies originating in Britain.
In a bid to recognise the depth and strength of the UK’s tech talent and to spread the message that the sector provides plentiful opportunities for meaningful, well-paid careers, the Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation will shortly launch the Bright Tech Future awards to recognise excellence in the tech workforce. These prestigious national awards will be aimed at those below the C-suite who have made a significant contribution to the success of their company.
Nominations will be sought from companies across the UK and the awards will be celebrated at the end of the year.
George Windsor, Head of Insights, Tech Nation, said: “With over 2.1 million people working in digital technology in 2018, the tech economy is bigger than sectors like hospitality and construction. However, increasingly, those lines are getting blurred, with technology jobs crossing over into the mainstream sectors like financial services and health, helping them evolve and stay competitive and productive. As countries transition to network based economies in a globalised future, the need for tech jobs and skills is reaching a generational high point, which is why this report is so timely and important in highlighting how the demand for tech skills continues to evolve and grow over time across the UK.”
Guillaume Pousaz, founder & CEO of Checkout.com: “I started my fintech business in the UK because of the quality of the engineering talent, forward thinking regulator and overall energy of the start-up scene. We are building a global company from London and are excited about offering a better way for businesses to process e-commerce transactions, while creating jobs for future generations.”
David Richards, CEO and co-founder of WANdisco said “The numbers speak for themselves. The digital sector is the way forward, both in terms of societal progress and job creation. While London is rightfully celebrated for the unique place it holds in the global tech landscape, the likes of Bristol, Leeds and Belfast – where we have an office – are showing that Britain has phenomenal potential and ability to innovate, and is doing so in a range of different regions. We have tremendously talented people across the country, building businesses and generating ideas that are world beating. Technology is the ultimate democratising force, and the growth we’ve seen in cities beyond London is a testament to that. Let’s now back British businesses in every region, and offer capital that facilitates their scaling.”
Sabby Gill, Managing Director, UK & Ireland, Sage said: “The Bright Tech Future report reveals the extent to which well-paid digital tech jobs are proliferating right across the UK. You no longer need to move to London or the Thames Valley for a good job because there are tens of thousands of jobs available in cities right across the country. At Sage, we have long known about the depth of talent in the North East with continued growth in our investment in the region. It is gratifying to see that this is now being recognised by others who want to locate or invest here.”
Tom McGillycuddy, CEO, Tickr said: “The UK has no shortage of accelerator programmes, tech events or government support, encouraging entrepreneurs to kick start their businesses. And it’s not just London that’s drawing in tech talent. Coming from Liverpool, tickr is proof of the inventive talent being mobilised in cities outside of London, and we are proud to be challenging traditional assumptions about impact investment from our base in the North.”
Joel Farrow, MD EMEA, Hibob, said: “Competition to attract and retain the best tech talent is tougher than ever, and today’s report from Tech Nation has confirmed this. As a wider scope of roles and a higher volume of jobs become available, HR and talent acquisition are now even more essential. Offering the right employee experience, culture, and benefits is the only way to compete with the other roles that these forward thinking, innovators and game changers are undoubtedly applying for. At Hibob we champion the combination of external data along with your own internal, people focused data and systems to create the perfect environment for finding and retaining best of breed employees. Without this level of insight, it has become almost impossible for companies to build the teams they need to succeed, wherever they are in the UK.”
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