The rise, and fall (and rise again) of web development jobs in the UK

George Windsor, January 5, 2018 4 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

Online job data shows 210 new jobs requiring Javascript are being advertised in London every day compared to 38 in the North West

Analysis of today’s labour market shows a total of 9,000 vacant Javascript developer roles across London and the South East. That roughly equates to 210 new jobs roles being advertised every day. By comparison, the North West has, on average, 38 new roles advertised each day.

Per person, there are more than twice the number of vacant web development roles in London and the South East compared to other areas of the country.1

This shouldn’t be a surprise…

To put employer demand for web development roles in context, in London there was a 45% increase in the number of Web Design and Development Professionals from 2015/16 to 2016/17 according to the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Labour Force Survey (LFS)2. This occupation relies heavily on programming languages like Javascript3, and HTML – reinforcing the correlation between the high demand for programming languages like Javascript, and the region’s burgeoning digital tech labour force.

Web development jobs are picking up from a post-recession low

Although not quite back up to the heady heights of pre-recession numbers, London web development jobs are back on the up. From 2013 to 2014 we see a significant downturn in web development numbers in the London and the South East – from Figure 1, these regions were arguably hardest hit in absolute terms. London, for example, experienced a reduction in web development jobs of 47% from 16,200 in 2012/13 to 8,600 in 2013/14.

Figure 1 Total employment in web design and development jobs over time by UK region (2007-2017)

The change in number Female workers in web development jobs was much less dramatic than male workers in London through the 2013-2014 downturn

In Figure 3 we see that male workers in web development jobs saw a 56% decrease between 2012/13 and 2013/14 whilst Figure 2 shows that the number of women in web development jobs decreased by 20% over the same period.

Figure 2 Change in number of women in web design and development jobs (2007-2017)

* Some regions in Figure 2 are supressed due to low counts

This difference is an odd one – it may be explained by a number of factors, most likely including working patterns. The data shows that women are more likely to be engaged part time working than men (30% of women are part time compared to 13% of men in 2017 in London according to the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE)). The difference in working patterns between men and women may have meant increased flexibility so part time workers were better able to weather the storm than their full-time counterparts.

Figure 3 Change in the number of men in web design and development jobs across the UK (2007-2017)

How has the number of web development jobs changed in other regions?

Over the last year, the North West experienced more modest growth in the number of Web Design and Development Professionals – though still an impressive 13% from 2015/16-2016/17. But there was a far greater boom in the number of IT engineers in the region. The South East has overtaken London in absolute numbers of web design and development professionals in 2015/16, however, over the last year this has dropped significantly, by 36%. Many other regions saw a similar dip in the number of web development professionals from 2012/13 to 2013/14, but tended to see a less extreme change, and broadly stable numbers across the 10 year period we looked at using the LFS.

What does a burgeoning number of senior tech professionals mean for companies?

London has experienced a huge increase in the number of IT director roles – an increase of 52% from 2015/16 to 2016/17. This points to the burgeoning startup culture in the region, and the proliferation of C-suite positions in these young firms.

However, the proliferation of high growth startups is a double edged sword when it comes to talent. It begs the question – if demand is outstripping supply of people with the skills needed to due to director level tech jobs, do the new recruits taking on these roles have the skills of their counterparts in times where we saw a less keen sense of talent shortage? Do as many IT directors, for example, have the skills required to effectively lead the technology function within the firms they work for, compared the comparable cohort of IT directors a decade ago?

Our programmes, like Founders Network, Upscale and Future Fifty facilitate connections between, and support for these C-suite professionals, throughout their growth journey. Upskilling, and personal development is an inevitable part of this journey.

We work with companies headquartered right across the UK – from Birmingham to Belfast, and Cardiff to Cambridge. And we will be scaling up this activity, as we transition from Tech City UK to Tech Nation in 2018.

1 Data from the Adzuna API
2 Accessed using Nomis
3 According to skills information from Adzuna.

Data & research, skills, talent, Tech Nation Report 2018