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The future of NHS demand for digital, data and technology roles

 

Executive Summary

This report was commissioned by The Digital Readiness programme in Health Education England (HEE), an Arm’s Length Body (ALB) of the NHS. The programme aims to establish sustainable models to understand the capacity and capability of the current digital workforce within the NHS and to help build the future digital workforce. The report was produced by Tech Nation’s Insights team in partnership with Adzuna which supplied job advertisement data from their own jobsite and the NHS Jobsite that was used for the analysis of this report.

This report provides a foothold to help the programme understand the labour market dynamics for the health informatics workforce i.e. those people who work in data, digital and technology and knowledge roles in the NHS. It presents an analysis of these roles listed on the NHS Jobs website (FindaJob), which has a separate jobs website, benchmarking the top digital, data and technology roles against the wider industry using data provided by Adzuna (Adzuna, 2011). It also highlights the roles and skills that have seen growth over the past few years. It is intended to provide a discovery-level evidence base of the demand for digital, data and technology roles in the NHS and benchmarks the NHS can use to prepare and plan their future digital workforce including most in-demand roles and market rates for salaries.

The NHS must benchmark itself against digital, data and technology roles being used across the UK to ensure that it prepares for a more technologically and digitally enabled workforce. The rise of digital health technology as an emerging area of economic activity will likely have a transformative effect on the NHS, particularly with the increasing use of advanced data science skills such as Machine Learning (ML) and with employer demand for Data Scientists increasing over the past few years across sectors. Some of the main findings and recommendations from the report are summarised below.

Main findings include the following highlights 

According to the Adzuna job advertisement dataset, which represents the wider industry labour market data, from January 2020 to April 2020 there were 29 times more advertised digital, data and technology roles than creative/design roles, highlighting the need for these skills needed in a workplace, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most in-demand roles in industry: According to the Adzuna job advertisement dataset, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud-based skills are growing in demand year on year. Software Developer is the most in-demand technology role in 2019. Cyber Security skills are growing in demand. Demand grew by 22% from 2018 to 2019 as society and services move to digital communication platforms. Yet, there were very few Cyber Security related advertised roles in the NHS - 30 roles during 2018 - 2020 (FindaJob NHS Jobs) compared to 33,750 roles at a UK wide industry level (Adzuna data).

Most advertised roles in the NHS: In 2019, a Clinical Coder was the most advertised role on the NHS Jobs (FindaJob website), however from January 2020 to February 2020, this role was not advertised suggesting the role may be declining in demand or possibly that there was a special demand for this role in 2019. Roles such as an Analyst, Technician, Database Administrator were in the top five roles in 2020. 

Most in-demand skills: In 2019, Engineering was the most in demand digital, data and tech skill, industry-wide according to Adzuna 2019 data. Javascript, C#, SQL, .net were all in the top 15 skills in demand. .net was a top five skill required by  employers on the NHS jobs website, and also a top 15 skill in demand for other sectors in the UK. 

Bridging the gender gap in digital: Digital, data and technology job advertisements within the NHS tend to use more feminine coded language (~70% of job advertisements), which could encourage a more balanced pool of applicants. 

Actions for the future  

The report identifies eleven actions for the NHS’s tech-enabled future, summarised below:

  1. Invest in supply models for in demand roles: The digital transformation required in services cannot exist without robust IT services, infrastructure and support, so ensuring that there are recruitment models and mechanisms funded to support the supply of the most in demand roles in IT, for example, Software Developers, IT Systems Developer, IT Systems Analyst, IT Project Managers and the digital storytellers and translators e.g. Product Managers, UX Designers, User Researchers and Service Managers is critical.
  2. Get ahead with demand stimulus models for future in demand roles: Review the areas for growth based on industry trends, such as the employer demand for Software Developer across all sectors.
  3. Understand how remote working will play out in the medium to long term on demand for roles: It will be critical to understand the short, medium, and long-term impacts, risks and opportunities of this transition when people are no longer travelling to and relocating to specific geographic areas for their place of work.
  4. Understand the potential occupational dynamics due to geographic salary variation: As the requirement to relocate and travel for jobs diminishes in the short to medium term, and the economic impact of lockdown in 2020 impacts on the employment rates in the labour market, it is not yet clear what the economic impact will be on competitive salary rates in high demand jobs.
  5. Explore and develop the future use of labour market data analytics as a tool in workforce planning: During COVID-19 this capability would have enabled a better understanding of in demand roles as they were needed.
  6. Encourage the use of gender decoding software when developing job adverts to ensure job adverts have a balanced narrative.
  7. Understand the level of demand for Cyber Security roles and Cyber Security skills to ensure patient safety is secure: Given the high demand for these essential skills, the NHS will be in competition with the wider sector and hiring of more cyber security professionals into IT teams, with the ability to educate the wider workforce in information security is essential.
  8. Invest in the Health Data Team and Data Science: Investing in health data analytics, data science and ensuring that data teams are recognised as a critical domain and service is essential if the NHS is to deliver the high-quality data driven health care it promises.
  9.  Understand the future of Clinical Coding to see if this role is in apparent decline due to the observations that the role will either be replaced by automation or absorbed into other roles in the future.  
  10.  Understand the apparent lack of demand for specialist digital skills in the NHS.
  11. Define workforce terminology clearly and have one version of the truth: NHS organisations should agree and work towards building a consolidated single view or database of all their Informatics staff, with standardised job titles.  This would make it far easier to monitor and evaluate performance against many of these recommended actions.

 

 

Introduction 

Job roles in digital, data and technology are becoming increasingly important in our growing digital world and society.

Since lockdown was implemented in March 2020, due to COVID-19, we have seen unprecedented levels of technology-driven change; even organisations with core aims which don’t rely heavily on technology have been compelled to treat digital skills and tools as indispensable. Markets that were on the cusp of digital transformation are now relying on next-generation tech, or else they have been left behind and may struggle to recover. 

Even traditional businesses have integrated technology into their offering to effectively serve both their customers and their employees. Most employers will now use digital tools for financials, online meetings, measuring employee satisfaction and tracking customer behaviour. Digital transformation will profoundly impact workforces and labour markets. 

Some occupations, departments or functions will dramatically expand, and others may eventually become obsolete. Importantly, we know from the evidence presented in this report that digital, data and technology roles will be in high demand across all sectors.

Prior to COVID-19, technology had already changed the landscape of sectors such as Finance, Retail, and Sports. Soon, no area of economic activity will remain untouched by technology, and this change is only enabled by increasingly tech focused jobs and the integration of digital skills and impact of COVID-19 on remote working and remote consultations in the NHS. 

There is compelling evidence that digital skills are essential to improving productivity. This presents a challenge for the UK, which experiences a digital skills gap and underperforms on tech productivity globally, ranking 23rd. (Tech Nation, 2019).  According to The Department for Digital Culture Media and Sports (DCMS) and The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), both corporates and SMEs are suffering from a tech skills gap of 72% and 49% respectively (BEIS & DCMS, 2016, p. 3). 

This report focuses on the impact of technology on the healthcare industry and starts to explore how this is impacting the NHS workforce profile. The emergence of digital health technology as an emerging area of economic activity will likely have a transformative effect on the NHS, particularly with the increasing use of Machine Learning (ML) and employer demand for Data Scientists increasing over the past few years. The emergence of data science, as a specialist domain in healthcare and with a specific job family with specialist key roles to deliver data driven services, requires specialist focus and integration into organisations’ establishments and services to enable the NHS to deliver 21st century data driven healthcare. 

The Digital Readiness programme is commissioned by NHSX and delivered by Health Education England (HEE), an Arm’s Length Body (ALB) of the NHS. The programme aims to establish sustainable models to understand the capacity and capability of the current digital workforce and to help build the future digital workforce. This report provides a foothold to help the programme understand the labour market dynamics for the health informatics workforce i.e. those people who work in data, digital and technology and knowledge roles in the NHS. It presents an analysis of digital, data and technology roles within the NHS job site (FindaJob) - benchmarking the top digital, data and technology roles against the wider industry using data provided by Adzuna (Adzuna, 2011). It also highlights the roles and skills that have seen growth over the past few years. More information on Adzuna can be found in the Methodology section.

By undertaking this labour market data analysis, we provide a discovery level evidence base to help raise awareness of the demand for digital, data and technology roles in the NHS and the skills and roles the NHS can benchmark to e.g. most in demand, market rates for salary to help prepare and plan their future digital workforce.

 

Partners

The report was commissioned by Health Education England and produced by Tech Nation’s Insights team in partnership with Adzuna.

Adzuna supplied job advertisement data from their own jobsite and the NHS jobsite that was used for the analysis of this report.

Find out more about Adzuna here.

 

Key Findings

  1. Of the total jobs advertised on the NHS Jobs website, (FindaJob, 2019), 1.6% were digital, data and technology roles, compared to a UK average of 17% (Adzuna, 2019).
  2. According to the Adzuna job advertisement dataset, from January 2020 to April 2020, there were 29 times more advertised digital, data and technology roles than creative/design roles, highlighting the importance of these skills needed in a workplace, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Cyber Security skills are growing in demand. Demand grew by 22% from 2018 to 2019 as society and services move to digital communication platforms.
  4. According to the Adzuna job advertisement dataset, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud-based skills are growing in demand year on year.
  5. There were very few Cyber Security related advertised roles in the NHS- 30 roles during 2018 - 2020 (FindaJob NHS Jobs) - compared to 33,750 roles at a UK wide industry level (Adzuna data). 
  6. In 2019, a Clinical Coder was the most advertised role on the NHS Jobs (FindaJob website), however from January 2020 to February 2020, this role was not advertised suggesting the role may be declining in demand or possibly that there was a special demand for this role in 2019. Roles such as an Analyst, Technician, Database Administrator were in the top five roles in 2020. 
  7. In 2019, Engineering was the most in demand digital, data and tech skill, industry wide according to Adzuna 2019 data. Javascript, C#, SQL, .net were all in the top 15 skills in demand.
  8. .net was a top five skill in employer demand on the NHS jobs website, this is also a top 15 skill in demand in the UK. 
  9. The NHS Jobs site (NHS Jobs, 2020)  includes job advertisements from a range of employers across the UK. NHS jobs are advertised through the FindaJob website. 
  10. Digital, data and technology job advertisements within the NHS tend to use more feminine coded language (~70% of job advertisements), allowing a more balanced number of applicants. (Kay et al., 2011, p. 111) On average, 60% of all industries use 17% more masculine coded words in their job adverts and 44% more masculine coded words for their IT jobs adverts (Adzuna, 2011).
 

1. The impact of Covid-19

It is worth acknowledging that during this current pandemic, there will not be as many jobs advertised in comparison to April 2019. However, insights from the trends in 2019 will help us prepare for a changing job market. The increase in demand for digital health tools and investment in health tech companies also increases the urgency to prepare for new tech-focused roles that will emerge as a result.

According to the labour market overview, reported by the ONS (here) for the year 2020 up until the month of May, there have been 637,000 vacancies in the UK from February to May, which is 170,000 fewer jobs than the previous quarter and 210,000 jobs lower than the previous year. (ONS, 2020).

The number one advertised role in 2019 in the UK across all job categories was a Social Care worker, whereas a Software Developer was the fourth most advertised role. Table 1.1 shows the top ten most advertised roles of the year 2019. 

Job roleFrequency%
Social Care Worker341,13312.8%
General Nurse257,9949.7%
General Manager200,7847.5%
Software Developer181,4546.8%
Project Manager136,0925.1%
Recruitment Consultant134,8445.1%
Lorry Driver131,2394.9%
Administrator119,4664.5%
Engineer107,3944.0%
Primary School Teacher102,9113.9%

Table 1.1: The top ten most advertised roles across all categories, Source: Adzuna

Figure 1.1 below shows that digital, data and technology roles are still the most in demand compared to other categories, despite an overall drop in advertised roles across all categories. We see that key roles within healthcare and social work haven't seen much of a decline - as they have obviously been critical during the covid-19 pandemic. This chart also shows a slight increase in demand for social work within the month of April. 

Figure 1.1: The number of advertised roles across categories  from Jan 2020 to April 2020 , Source: Adzuna 

Figure 1.2 below, identifies the top 20 digital, data and technology roles in demand, based on advertised roles using the Adzuna data set for 2020. This gives an indication of the type of roles currently available and needed. A Software developer is the number one sought after role, across sectors, and this has been the case for the past three years. The demand for these skills is fundamental to each business, irrespective of sector.

Figure 1.2: The top 20 roles in demand, Source: Adzuna, 2020

RolesNo. advertised roles%
Software Developer386535.3%
Engineer213522.9%
Project Manager147922.0%
Maintenance Engineer112831.5%
Java Developer110121.5%
NET Developer109211.5%
Front End Developer87571.2%
Consultant82081.1%
Field Service Engineer80061.1%
Business Analyst77511.1%
Devops Engineer70871.0%
Technician64260.9%
Full Stack Developer63430.9%
IT System Developer59150.8%
C# Developer55490.8%
Service Engineer51640.7%
Design Engineer48350.7%
Mechanical Design Engineer47940.7%
IT System Architect47790.7%
Infrastructure Engineer47590.7%

Table 1.2: The top 20 roles in demand, the data for figure 2.2, Source: Adzuna, 2020

Table 1.3 below shows the percentage of digital, data and technology roles  across the UK in regions and key cities.

Data from FindaJob covers the whole of the UK, whereas the NHS jobs website covers England only. Further information can be found in the Methodology section on the data limitations. 

Table 1.3 below shows the percentage of digital, data and technology roles across the UK in regions and key cities.

There were other regions and cities we would have liked to report on, such as Wales, Glasgow, Belfast, South Hampshire, however, there was no data to support this on the NHS jobs (FindaJob) website - suggesting there were no job vacancies within this time period advertised. 

There were no digital, data and technology roles advertised in South Hampshire within the Adzuna dataset. 

Using Adzuna’s job advertisement data as a benchmark we deduce: 

  • Of all roles advertised in Wales, 17% were digital, data and technology roles. 
  • Of all roles advertised in Glasgow, 22% were digital, data and technology roles.
  • Of all roles advertised in Belfast, 26% were digital, data and technology roles.

Salaries by Location – NHS Jobs Website 

London offered the highest median digital, data and technology salary in 2019, followed by Newcastle. Edinburgh had the lowest number of advertised jobs overall, and inevitably the lowest number of advertised digital, data and technology jobs. However, the proportion of digital, data and technology jobs made up 4% of all the jobs overall, making it the city with the highest proportion of advertised digital, data and technology jobs. The other UK cities ranged between 1.4% and 2.1%.

RegionsNo. advertised jobs overallNo. advertised dig tech jobs% dig tech advertised jobsMedian Salary for digital, data and technology jobs, 2019
North West England11265118231.6%£26,315
Manchester525928851.7%£26,315
North East England218403201.5%£27,051
Newcastle89401701.9%£33,834
Eastern England11433120501.8%£25,415
Cambridge160473392.1%£26,316
Norwich119842031.7%£26,315
South East England15450623011.5%£26,315
West Midlands896028591.0%£21,756
Birmingham143221651.2%£21,756
East Midlands493657181.5%£21,756
Leicester67671021.5%£29,944
London15453826571.7%£36,783
South West England8406614131.7%£26,315
Bristol188943722.0%£29,755
Cardiff4531621.4%N/A
Yorkshire5931511031.9%£24,021
Leeds88881681.9%£28,642
Edinburgh1021414.0%£22,254

Table 1.3: The proportion of digital, data and technology roles, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 

The proportion of digital, data and technology roles - NHS jobs website

When analysing the NHS jobs data, the number of advertised digital, data and technology  roles was much higher in 2018, than 2019, however in November and December we see this number start to decline and stabilise, which is more in line with the figures for 2019 and 2020.

The percentage of advertised roles attributed to digital, data and technology in 2018 was on average four times as much as the digital, data and technology roles advertised in 2019. 

On analysis, it is likely that this is due to the launch of the FindaJob website in May 2018 and taking six months for the platform to stabilise i.e. the data set likely includes duplicate jobs fed in from differing fields at differing points. Therefore, in Table 1.4 the figures from May 2018 to October 2018 are a lot higher than the rest of the year 2018 and the year 2019. The data set for April 2020 is incomplete, which is why the number for this month is much lower than the previous month. 

The figures in 2019 are where we have greatest confidence on the numbers of advertised jobs from the NHS Jobs website. 

The figures are shown in Table 1.4. 

YearMonthAll advertised rolesNo. advertised digital, data and technology roles% of advertised digital, data and technology roles
2018May2878513534.70%

Jun3445315374.50%

Jul3262114074.30%

Aug3446515074.40%

Sep3412714014.10%

Oct3648614133.90%

Nov356203411.00%

Dec268501620.60%
2019Jan368343581.00%

Feb323372640.80%

Mar353163040.90%

Apr331483201.00%

May351833110.90%

Jun366572850.80%

Jul402463790.90%

Aug366342590.70%

Sep331502450.70%

Oct400903370.80%

Nov374402890.80%

Dec293262560.90%
2020Jan398352800.70%

Feb372212830.80%

Mar289102050.70%

Apr7785761.00%

Table 1.4: The proportion of digital, data and technology roles May 2018- April 2020, Source: FindaJob NHS Jobs

             

 

2. Demand for tech roles is rising

This section aims to look at the changing demand for digital, data and technology roles to help NHS managers meet the needs of the present day and prepare for the future. 

In the Adzuna dataset, the demand for digital, data and technology roles has increased over the past three years by 2%. In 2017, 15% of all advertised roles were digital, data and tech related roles. In 2019 this was at 17%.

Although the role of a Clinical Coder was the most in demand digital, data and technology role in 2019 in the FindaJob NHS Jobs dataset, up until April 2020, this role does not form part of the top 15 most in demand roles, but it did appear as an advertised role, further down the list. 

The role of an Analyst is within the top five most advertised roles and IT System Developer making up 0.9% of the advertised roles in 2019, compared to 0.5% in 2018 and Software Developer within the top 10. 

Figure 2.1: Top 15 roles in demand,  Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

Top roles of 20192018% of advertised roles in 20182019% of advertised roles in 2019
Clinical Coder470.5%1333.7%
Support Administrator201322.1%992.7%
IT Network Administrator620.7%511.4%
IT Technician2232.4%431.2%
Analyst1011.1%371.0%
IT System Developer500.5%340.9%
Database Administrator1601.8%300.8%
Engineer510.6%280.8%
Software Developer810.9%260.7%
IT Project Manager610.7%220.6%
Data Quality Specialist240.3%210.6%
Application Support Analyst280.3%180.5%
Infrastructure Engineer400.4%180.5%
QA/QC manager300.3%180.5%
IT Help Desk Agent150.2%170.5%

Table 2.1 : Top 15 roles in demand, the dat for figure 2.1,  Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

The demand for a Support Administrator decreased significantly from 2013 roles in 2018 to 99 roles in 2019. Making up 22.7% of advertised digital, data and technology roles in 2019, compared to 2.7% in 2018. As there was an overall decrease in the number of advertised digital, data and tech roles in 2019, this may suggest why there was a general decrease.

In Figure 2.2, below, the employer demand for roles such as an IT Technician and an IT Network Administrator ranks as the top two roles in demand. The role of an Analyst is also within the top five. 

Figure 2.2: Top 15 roles in demand, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

Top roles of 2020No.advertised roles% of all advertised roles
Technician213.3%
IT Network Administrator121.9%
Database Administrator111.7%
Administrator Coordinator101.6%
Analyst91.4%
IT Help Desk Agent81.3%
Administrative Assistant71.1%
Data Analyst71.1%
IT System Developer71.1%
Infrastructure Engineer71.1%
Quality Manager71.1%
Software Developer71.1%
QA/QC Manager61.0%
Technologist61.0%
App Developer40.6%

Table 2.2 : Top 15 roles in demand, the data behind figure 2.2, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

Figure 2.3 depicts a geographic breakdown at city level.  London has the highest number of advertised roles. This is followed by Manchester and Bristol. There are fewer digital, data and technology roles advertised in Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Figure 2.3: No. advertised roles in UK cities, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

Cities201820192020
London1628705174
Manchester53725663
Yorkshire81218732
Bristol18614631
Cambridge18512826
Newcastle1193612
Norwich1147212
Birmingham120244
Leeds14332
Leicester9722
Cardiff58--
Edinburgh2912-

Table 2.3: No. advertised roles in UK cities, the data behind figure 2.3, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

We compared the median salary of digital, data and technology roles advertised by NHS jobs and industry (using Adzuna data), shown in Figure 2.4.

Figure 2.4: Median salary for the top 15 roles benchmarked against Adzuna’s salary, Source: Adzuna and FindaJob NHS jobs

Table 2.4 below shows the median salary differences between NHS Jobs and Adzuna across digital, data and technology roles. NHS Jobs provide a higher median salary compared to Adzuna for an Application Support Analyst and a Data Quality Specialist.

Top roles of 2019NHS JobsAdzunaSalary difference
Clinical Coder£26,000£50,400-£24,400
IT Project Manager£38,000£49,200-£11,200
QA/QC manager£35,500£45,000-£9,500
IT System Developer£32,000£45,000-£13,000
Software Developer£29,000£45,000-£16,000
Infrastructure Engineer£26,500£43,500-£17,000
Database Administrator£22,000£40,000-£18,000
IT Network Administrator£32,000£37,500-£5,500
Analyst£26,000£37,500-£11,500
Engineer£26,000£37,500-£11,500
Application Support Analyst£32,500£32,000£500
Data Quality Specialist£31,000£29,500£1,500
IT Technician£20,000£27,000-£7,000
Support Administrator£26,000£23,500£2,500
IT Help Desk Agent£19,000£22,800-£3,800

Table 2.4 : Median salary for the top 15 roles benchmarked against Adzuna’s salary, the data behind figure 2.4, Source: Adzuna and FindaJob NHS jobs

A Data Quality Specialist and a Support Administrator are the two roles that offer a higher median salary than the industry standard. 

 

3. Demand for digital, data and technology roles vary across the UK

To gain a better understanding of where digital, data and technology roles are located within the UK, we analysed NHS jobs data for key cities, looking retrospectively at 2019 to compare the most to the previous year (2018). Overall, the number of digital, data and technology roles advertised in 2019 is lower than the number of jobs advertised in 2018, but this is most likely due to a more general drop in recruitment across the NHS in 2019, since the proportion of tech jobs compared to all job ads on the NHS job site is generally higher in 2019 than in 2018. As the data for 2020 is small, it was not possible to split this year by the different regions or cities.

To compare NHS jobs to a cross-sector standard, the Adzuna dataset was used to analyse the proportion of digital, data and technology roles across the UK regions, and this is shown in Table 3.1.

London offers the highest median salary for digital, data and tech roles and Northern Ireland has the highest proportion of advertised digital, data and technology roles of all their roles advertised, at 27%.

RegionNo. all advertised rolesNo. advertised digital, data and tech roles% dig tech rolesMedian digital, data and tech salary
Greater London345926365827519.0%£55,000
East of England266530245694117.1%£37,100
South East England236151040869717.3%£37,500
North West England131773320965115.9%£36,000
South West England126563824332419.2%£35,500
West Midlands106649618938217.8%£35,000
Yorkshire and the Humber87784915179317.3%£33,500
East Midlands80527513480416.7%£35,100
Scotland68478111327416.5%£37,500
Wales3354385633216.8%£35,000
North East England3037924824415.9%£32,500
Northern Ireland1235232799222.7%£38,400

Table 3.1: Proportion of digital, data and technology roles per UK region, Source: Adzuna 2019

Tables 3.2 - 3.10 show the most advertised roles and the proportion of these roles compared to the total number of advertised digital, data and technology roles. The figures in these tables show acute changes within the number of advertised roles. 

Strategies may have not been put in place yet for a business case to grow digital, data and technology roles and skills within departments yet, so we can assume that this may be a contributing factor to the low number of advertised digital, data and technology roles.

Overall, we see that amongst Cambridge’s top ten roles in demand in 2019, none of these roles had a decrease in demand based on the number of advertised roles and the proportion of these roles- they either stayed the same or there was a slight increase.

As the demand for digital, data and technology roles differ by UK city, it is worth thinking about the type of skills that are needed across the NHS Trusts  and the size of the organisations - which will, no doubt affect the availability of roles.

  • Table 3.2 shows that in London, IT Network administrator was the highest in employer demand, proportionally the demand was more than double in 2019 compared to 2018. The demand for engineers has increased year on year, the number of advertised roles increased from 7 to 11. 
London
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
IT Network Administrator15150.9%2.0%
Communication Manager21121.2%1.6%
Engineer7110.4%1.5%
Analyst31111.8%1.5%
Application Support Analyst17101.0%1.3%
Database Administrator51103.0%1.3%
IT Project Manager990.5%1.2%
Infrastructure Engineer880.5%1.1%
Database Developer770.4%0.9%
Data Quality Specialist960.5%0.8%

Table 3.2: Top digital, data and technology roles in London, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 

  • In Manchester, we see the ‘new roles’ that emerged in 2019 - A Network Engineer, an Application Support Analyst and a Data Quality Specialist. We can suggest that perhaps these roles existed within NHS Trusts in Manchester, and there may not have been a need to hire for these roles in 2018.
  • The demand for a clinical coder in 2019, saw the highest increase, whilst roles such as Database Manager and Technician have decreased year on year. This is shown in Table 3.3.
Manchester
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Network Engineer040.0%1.5%
Application Support Analyst020.0%0.8%
Data Quality Analyst020.0%0.8%
Clinical Coder1170.2%6.4%
Technical Support Engineer230.4%1.1%
Software Developer330.5%1.1%
Project Manager430.7%1.1%
Database Administrator530.9%1.1%
QA/QC Manager731.3%1.1%
IT Technician2434.3%1.1%

Table 3.3:Top digital, data and technology roles in Manchester, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 

  • In Bristol, a Clinical Coder was the top role sought after by employers, which is no surprise taking into account this role was the most in demand of 2019 nationwide. 
  • An Infrastructure Engineer and Engineering Technician has ‘emerged’ in 2019. Similarly to Manchester, this may suggest these roles may have existed already, but there was no need to hire for these roles in 2018. Whilst roles such as Data Analyst and Field Service Engineer seems to have declined in demand. This is shown in Table 3.4.  
Bristol
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Clinical Coder2111.3%5.7%
IT Support Engineer241.3%2.1%
IT System Developer342.0%2.1%
IT Network Administrator432.7%1.6%
Data Analyst523.4%1.0%
Information Manager120.7%1.0%
Engineering Technician010.0%0.5%
Field Service Engineer211.3%0.5%
Infrastructure Engineer010.0%0.5%
IT Support Administrator110.7%0.5%

Table 3.4: Top digital, data and technology roles in Bristol, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

  • In Cambridge, a Software Analyst was the most in demand role of 2019, this made up 17.8% of all advertised digital, data and technology roles.
  • Quality Systems Manager emerged in 2019.
  • The demand for a Support Administrator grew in 2019 and made up 6.2% of the advertised digital, data and technology roles compared to 0.5% in 2018. These figures are shown in Table 3.5.
Cambridge
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Software Analyst17239.1%17.8%
IT System Administrator693.2%7.0%
Analyst492.2%7.0%
Support Administrator180.5%6.2%
Engineer683.2%6.2%
IT Project Manager673.2%5.4%
Database Administrator361.6%4.7%
Mechanical Engineer552.7%3.9%
Quality Systems Manager040.0%3.1%
Mechanical Engineering Technician442.2%3.1%

Table 3.5: Top digital, data and technology roles  in Cambridge, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 

  • In Norwich, whilst IT Network Administrator was the most in demand role, there have been a few roles that seem to have emerged by way of employer demand in 2019. These were roles such as Information Manager, Technical Solutions Architect that have seemed to emerge in 2018, suggesting that perhaps there were no particular vacancies for these roles in 2018. This is shown in Table 3.6.
Norwich
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
IT Network Administrator665.1%8.0%
Information Manager040.0%5.3%
Systems Support Engineer231.7%4.0%
QA/QC Manager020.0%2.7%
Technical Solutions Architect020.0%2.7%
Telecommunications Analyst020.0%2.7%
Telecommunications Engineer423.4%2.7%
Database Administrator110.8%1.3%

Table 3.6: Top digital, data and technology roles in Norwich, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs,

  • In Newcastle, IT Help Desk Agents were the only top role in demand that grew. 
  • The demand for a Software developer decreased in 2019 from 2018. Although the demand for a Technician decreased by two roles in 2019 from 2018, proportionally a Technician accounted for 10.3% of the advertised roles, compared to 5.0%  This is shown in Table 3.7.
Newcastle
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Technician645.0%10.3%
IT Help Desk Agent231.7%7.7%
Clinical Coder221.7%5.1%
Project Manager221.7%5.1%
Technologist423.3%5.1%
Data Analyst110.8%2.6%
Engineering Apprentice010.0%2.6%
Software Developer514.2%2.6%

Table 3.7: Top digital, data and technology roles  in Newcastle, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs, 

  • Table 3.8 shows that, in Birmingham, the demand for an IT System Administrator dropped year on year by 75%. 
  • The roles of a Database Developer and a QA/QC Manager roles have ‘emerged’ in 2019. This may not necessarily be new roles, rather, no vacancies to fill for these roles during 2018. 
Birmingham
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Support Technician120.7%8.0%
Analyst110.7%4.0%
Database Developer010.0%4.0%
IT System Administrator412.9%4.0%
Information Security Specialist110.7%4.0%
QA/QC Manager010.0%4.0%

Table 3.8: Top digital, data and technology roles  in Birmingham, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

  • 4% of all advertised roles were digital, data and technology roles. In other UK clusters, this proportion was between 1-2%. These figures are shown in Table 2.2.
  • The number of advertised digital, data and technology roles in Edinburgh was the lowest, so it is no wonder the top roles in 2019 have appeared by having only one advertised role. 
Edinburgh
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
Engineering Assistant113.3%7.7%
IT Network Administrator216.7%7.7%
IT Security Technician010.0%7.7%
Server Engineer010.0%7.7%
IT Support Coordinator010.0%7.7%

Table 3.9: Top digital, data and technology roles  in Edinburgh, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 

  • In Leeds, there was not sufficient data to look at the top ten roles. So in table 3.10, there are two roles displayed - an IT Project Manager and an IT Support Manager.
Leeds
Roles20182019% advertised roles in 2018% advertised roles in 2019
IT Project Manager010.0%33.3%
IT Support Manager110.6%33.3%

Table 3.10: Top digital, data and technology roles  in Leeds, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

As well as looking at the top roles in demand across the UK, we look at roles that offer the highest and lowest salaries. ‘N/A‘in the table depicts zero data available. 

We used the Adzuna dataset to get an understanding of these salaries:

  • In Cardiff, the highest salary was for the role of Product Director at £137,500 and the lowest salary was for the role of Engineer Apprentice at £10,892.
  • In Edinburgh, the highest median salary was for the role of Chief Information Officer at £240,000, and the lowest was for the role of Data Processor at £12,890.
  • In Leeds, the highest median salary was for the role of Chief Information Officer at £130,000, and the lowest was for the role of IT Apprentice at £9,366.
  • In Leicester, the highest median salary was for the role of Lead Technical Architect at £1,000, and the lowest was for the role of Engineer Apprentice at £8,000.

Infrastructure Engineer and Technical Architect use overlapping skills. In Table 3.11 below we see that these roles offered the highest salaries in Bristol and Manchester. 


Highest median salary for a digital, data and technology roleLowest median salary for a digital, data and technology role
BirminghamAnalyst: £38,132IT Support Technician: £21,757
BristolInfrastructure Engineer £38,132Field Service Engineer: £21,757
YorkshireClinical Scientist: £65,167Engineer: £14,500
NorwichSystems Support Engineer: £26,316IT Network Administrator: £19,118
NewcastleSoftware Developer: £38,132Technician £19,118
CardiffN/AN/A
EdinburghN/AN/A
LeedsN/AN/A
LondonChief Information Office: £94,824Engineering Technician: £26,252
LeicesterN/AN/A
ManchesterTechnical Architect: £38,132Clinical Coder: £19,118
CambridgeQuality Systems Manager: £38,132Data Analyst: £26,316

Table 3.11: Median digital, data and technology salaries , Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

 

4. Cost of living matters for NHS jobs

The cost of living index (Numbeo, 2009)  is a metric which measures the amount of money you will need to live an average quality of life. This includes the cost of food, transport, housing, healthcare, energy and taxes. This is relative to each city and country’s essentials to ensure the indexes are comparable.

The cost of living is a factor most people consider when planning on where to live or relocate. This does not consider people’s wages, so in Table 4.1 we factor in the median salary for digital, data and technology roles across key UK cities to get an aggregate ratio. This is then ranked, therefore, the higher the aggregate ratio, the more spending power you have relative to the cost of living.

Table 4.1 shows that living in Newcastle with a digital, data and technology role provides someone with the most spending power, followed by London. Although Birmingham has the lowest cost of living index, it ranks last as the salary offered was quite low.

UK cityCost of living IndexAverage salary across rolesAggregate Ratio rank across popular dig/tech roles
Newcastle70.33£33,834481.07
London84.15£36,783437.11
Leeds66.75£28,625428.84
Bristol72.57£29,755410.02
Manchester69.31£26,316379.69
Cambridge71.43£26,316368.42
Edinburgh70.18£23,254331.35
Birmingham66.35£21,757327.91

Table 4.1: Overall cost of living rank, Source: Numbeo, FindaJob NHS jobs

 

5. Tech job advertisements in the NHS tend to use more feminine language

Social factors have unconsciously primed us to use gendered language in stereotypical ways, even without noticing it. Inevitably, this is reflected in the way we write and describe job roles, candidate requirements and other subtleties within job ads. Particular attention is now being paid to job descriptions of a technical nature, where men working in these roles often outnumber women, such as in Cyber Security by three to one(Computer Weekly, 2019).

Gender discrepancy in tech-focused professions is the result of multiple factors which go beyond off-putting job ads and biases in recruiting, but it is important for employers to take responsibility for those factors they can control to help attract a more balanced representation of applicants for roles.

There has been research (Kay et al., 2011, p. 111) to show that women tend to be discouraged from applying to jobs which are advertised with stereotypically masculine language, while the converse is not true -  adverts using stereotypically feminine language have little effect on how much men feel they fit into a specific role, even though they do judge ‘feminine’ ads as less appealing. This is suggested as an example of why the gender inequality remains. 

Two gender decoder tools (Matfield 2011) & (Totaljobs, 2020) were used to assess gender-coded language in the job descriptions provided by the NHS. (these can be found in the methodology section) Arguably, an ideal situation would be to use more feminine-coded language as this does not deter either men or women from applying (Kay et al., 2011). The top 10 in-demand tech roles from the NHS jobs website were analysed.

Table 5.1 below summarises the gendered language classifications of the job posts listed. In this analysis, seven out of the ten roles had use of more feminine language, this is seen as an encouraging factor (Kay et al., 2011) to encourage both men and women to apply to these technical roles.

The job description for a Software Developer used more masculine-coded words. There were two masculine coded words - ‘driven’ and ‘analysts’ - compared to one feminine-coded word: ‘understanding’.

Job RoleMasculineFeminineVerdict
Cyber Security ConsultantIndividual, Challenges, ChallengingUnderstands, supports, supportingBalance of masculine-coded and feminine-coded words.
Software DeveloperDriven, AnalystsUnderstandingUse of more masculine coded words
IT Network administratorIndividual, LeadSupports, Supporting, enthusiasticUse of more feminine coded words
IT TechnicianActive, principlesResponding, responsibilities, support, agreedUse of more feminine coded words
AnalystIndividual, analytical, analystCollaborative, support, respond, supportive, commitmentUse of more feminine coded words
Database AdministratorPrinciplesEnthusiastic, ResponsibleUse of more feminine coded words
EngineerDriven, IndividualTrusts, Supports, SupportedUse of more feminine coded words
Data Quality SpecialistN/ATrusts, Supports, empathy, Understanding, ResponsibleUse of more feminine coded words
Application support AnalystAnalystSupportsBalance of masculine-coded and feminine -coded words.
QA/QC managerIndividual, Lead, CompetitiveDepending, Responsible, Supportive, Committed, feel, supportedUse of more feminine coded words

Table 5.1: Gender bias analysis for digital, data and technology roles , Source: FindaJob NHS jobs

 

6. Technical skills are highest in demand 

The skills sought by employers for digital, data and technology roles were analysed using the NHS Jobs data. The aim was to find the type of skills employers within the NHS require and compare this to what is in demand by employers for digital, data and technology roles across the wider tech labour market using Adzuna data. 

The top 15 skills taken from the NHS jobs site and Adzuna are shown in Figure 6.1 and Figure 6.2 respectively.

.net is an open source software framework, allowing the creation of any type of application, be that web based, mobile, desktop. This software runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. This was a top five skill sought within the NHS and a top 15 skill sought industry wide. 

Apart from this example, there was no evidence of demand for any other specialised software. Whereas, we see that within the top 15 skills in demand on an industry wide basis, skills such as Javascript, SQL and C# were requested. This is shown in Table 6.2.

Figure 6.1: Top 15 skills, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 2019

SkillFrequency% of job ads
data79422.0%
management75821.0%
communication72620.1%
research53314.8%
.net47813.2%
coding44012.2%
clinical43912.2%
leadership41511.5%
engineering40811.3%
teaching40411.2%
quality39911.1%
safety39911.1%
support38510.7%
planning3529.8%
development3489.6%

Table 6.1 : Top 15 skills, Source: FindaJob NHS jobs 2019

Table 6.1 shows 22% of advertised digital, data and technology roles had a requirement for the skill ‘data’. Although technical skills are important, management and communication skills are still key for all roles.

Figure 6.2: Top 15 skills, Source: Adzuna, 2019

SkillFrequency% of job ads
engineering1192414.5%
communication824103.1%
clients774662.9%
management711622.7%
data644442.4%
consulting499491.9%
testing497831.9%
javascript481501.8%
reporting448911.7%
security448331.7%
c#414701.6%
sql414681.6%
project management409481.5%
customer service406341.5%
.net386961.5%

Table 6.2 : Top 15 skills, Source: Adzuna, 2019

We analysed the skills for the most in-demand roles from NHS jobs using the Adzuna dataset, to understand the type of skills needed from an industry perspective. This is useful, because it helps with future planning for roles that exist within the NHS and to understand the type of skills that are needed to fulfil these roles.

The top ten skills are shown in Table 6.3 and Table 6.4. 

Clinical coderData Quality SpecialistDatabase AdministratorEngineerIT Network Administrator
Clinical codingDataDataEngineeringManagement
Quality StandardsData QualityDatabaseCommunicationSolutions
Medical TerminologyCommunicationManagementSolutionsCommunication
AnalyticalAttention to DetailCommunicationMaintenanceData
CommunicationManagementMicrosoft ExcelManagementSecurity
CodingDatabaseData ManagementDataMaintenance
DataMicrosoft ExcelSQLClientsAdministration
.netReportingSolutionsTestingNetworking
ManagementWritingReportingManufacturingLinux
documentationClientsDatabase AdministrationEnergyHardware

Table 6.3: Top 10 skills, Source: Adzuna

IT Project ManagerIT TechnicianSoftware DeveloperIT Support AdministratorIT Systems Developer
Project ManagementHardwareSolutionsCommunicationSystems Engineering
CommunicationIT SupportC#ClientsEngineering
ManagementEngineeringSoftware EngineeringManagementSolutions
BudgetsCommunicationJavaScriptAdministrationCommunication
Prince2Active DirectorySoftware DevelopmentCustomer ServiceManagement
SolutionsNetworkingJavaPlanningSecurity
PlanningSolutionsEngineeringMicrosoft ExcelIntegration
ReportingManagementCommunicationAttention to DetailData
Project PlanningMaintenanceProgrammingHealthcareHardware
Stakeholder ManagementCustomer Service.NetDataAnalysis

Table 6.4 : Top 10 skills, Source: Adzuna

There is a demand for communication - this is listed as a top five skill across all roles, except for a Software Developer.

There are specialist skills needed for digital, data and tech roles such as Prince2 for an IT Project Manager, SQL for a Database Administrator, Linux for an IT Network Administrator and C# for a Software Developer.

Skill based career progression

The Adzuna and FindaJob NHS Jobs dataset provided limited information on seniority of position. Approximately 4% of the top ten roles identified in Figure 2.1 have this information.

However, in the instances where there was at least 10% of this information available, we were able to analyse the difference in skills between junior or entry level and senior level positions. Of the top 10 roles in demand, there were three with sufficient data on seniority. Below is listed the skills needed for senior positions that were not required in junior positions, thus indicating where those looking to progress within their role could fruitfully look to orient their upskilling efforts, including technical courses, as well as experience based learning.

  • Senior Clinical Coder: Governance, Coaching, KPI’s and Management skills. 
  • Engineer: Linux, Unix and SQL skills.
  • Software Developer : System integration, GIT, C# and .net skills.

Across the roles there were not many differences in technical skills, however it is clear that management, and developing staff are key differentiators, depicting that management based roles, as opposed to technical leadership based roles, seem to be most in demand.

 

7. Areas for future growth

We identified key roles and skills within the digital, data and technology sector, based on year on year growth. Areas of expertise such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber Security, Cloud Computing and Ethics show growth in demand year on year across different industries.


In the NHS, Clinical Coder was the most in demand role in 2019, based on the number of job advertisements. However, in the analysis of our data so far in 2020, this role was not in demand at all, which may have been impacted by COVID-19. One explanation is that demand for this role is declining since the responsibilities will either be replaced by automation or absorbed into other roles. Some recent evidence suggests that manual clinical coding is seen as expensive and prone to error (Catling et al., 2018). It has been suggested that ‘AI powered speech recognition technology coupled with the structured clinical terminology SNOMED CT could influence and partake in the transformation of clinical coder's role in the NHS’. Therefore, if this is the case for the NHS, key considerations for further analysis would be:

  • What skills are transferable and how will this be transitioned?
  • Will there be redeployment models in place?
  • Can the role of a clinical coder be fully automated?
  • What new roles will emerge as a result of more automation of administrative data tasks within the NHS?

Forecasting, using the Adzuna dataset, we would expect the role of Software Developer to continue to grow in demand in 2020. Other likely in demand roles include DevOps Engineer, Full Stack Developer and IT System Architect - this analysis is based on the top 20 most advertised roles. 

Data Scientist - although this role does not appear within the top thirty roles in the Adzuna dataset, is likely to be a key in demand role over the next five years. We make this assumption based upon the growth of this role since 2016. 

Table 7.1 below shows: 

  • An increase in the number of advertised roles for a Data Scientist from 2016 to 2017 by 29%. 
  • A slight dip was observed in the number of advertised roles for a ‘Data Scientist’ from 2017 to 2018 by 9% year on year.
  • From 2018 to 2019, the number of advertised roles grew by 46% year on year. 

Up until April 2020, there have been just under 3,500 roles for Data Scientist advertised. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would not expect this number to be similar to 2019, as there has been a decline in the number of advertised roles across all categories (Adzuna, 2020).


Beyond 2020, we would expect to see the employer demand for Data Scientists continue to grow and this is based upon past trends we see in Figure 7.1. We know that the overall number of advertised jobs faced a hit in 2020, however, the overall trend is up.

Figure 7.1: Number of advertised roles for a ‘Data Scientist’, Source: Adzuna

YearNo. advertised 'Data Scientist' rolesYear on year % increase
20165866
2017756429%
20186881-9%
20191002946%
20203491*

Table 7.1: Number of advertised roles for a ‘Data Scientist’, Source: Adzuna

*Note, 2020 is not a complete year, this is based on data up until April 2020

‘Cyber Security’ skills

Cyber Security roles play an extremely important part in organisations protecting them against cyber threats. A lack of cyber security standards and skills within the NHS will present a significant threat to patient safety (Ghafur et al., 2020), according to a recent report published by Imperial College London and led by Lord Darzi. 

There were only 30 cyber/information security related roles from the NHS Jobs website. Given that there are over 8000 providers and commissioners of NHS organisations (NHS Providers), this seems like a very low level of demand. 

Figure 7.2 shows the increase in the total number of job roles that list Cyber Security over the past three years, as a skill set that is needed within a job. Based on this trend, we’d expect this to continue to increase and show an upwards trajectory, over the next five years. 

Figure 7.2: No. of roles per year listing Cyber Security as a skill, Source: Adzuna

YearNo. of advertised roles
201727822
201841065
201949992

Table 7.2: No. of roles per year listing Cyber Security as a skill, Source: Adzuna

‘Cloud’ based skills

Figure 7.3 below shows year on year growth in the demand for cloud computing-based skills. Companies across multiple sectors are harnessing their data to draw insights to inform business decisions and strategy. According to the Tech Nation Report 2019 Software as a service (SAAS) was within the top 5 sub-sectors for investment in UK tech scale-ups.

SAAS type companies typically use data as a foundation to provide a service. As such, data needs to be stored securely in such a way where it is scalable, without bottlenecks. Cloud computing provides a suitable solution for this. With the COVID-19 pandemic, cloud solutions make it much easier to share large data between teams, encouraging collaboration and flexibility and providing the platform for remote working. Teams can be located anywhere, allowing for digital, data and technology roles which are not office dependent, widening the talent pool for employment possibilities.

Figure 7.3: No. roles per year listing ‘cloud computing as a skill’, Source: Adzuna

YearNo. of advertised roles
201744896
201846424
201956640

Table 7.3: No. roles per year listing ‘cloud computing’ as a skill, Source: Adzuna

‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ based skills

Figure 7.4 shows the employer demand for AI skills, such as Machine Learning (ML). This is continually growing year on year. Moreover, the UK is continuing to attract consistent investment for AI over the past five years and is fuelling jobs within AI as a result (Tech Nation, 2020).

AI's use of scientific methods coupled with new technology has produced powerful tools, particularly in areas such as transport, robotics and now diagnostic services in medicine, such as radiology and ophthalmology.

Here are some examples of UK based AI startups in healthcare:

  1. Babylon Health - their focus is to make health services accessible and affordable to all.
  2. Benevolent AI - their focus is on health and drug development.
  3. Healx - an integration of pharmacology and AI to discover treatments for rare diseases.

These companies rely on data teams and are integrating data science with clinical skill sets. They are typically hiring for roles such as a Business Intelligence Analyst, Product Analyst, Insights Analyst, Full Stack Engineer, Java Software Developer, Front End Engineer (Babylon Health, 2020).

Figure 7.4: No. roles per year listing ‘AI’ as a skill, Source: Adzuna

YearNo. of advertised roles
201722417
201832785
201947214

Table 7.4 : No. roles per year listing ‘AI’ as a skill, Source: Adzuna

‘Ethics’ based skills

Ethics in technology and the use of data has been put in sharp focus as a strategic business priority. Internal data breaches and privacy violations within healthcare make the stakes extremely high. 

The Topol Review (HEE, 2019, p. 22), states ‘There are important legal and ethical implications arising from the use of advanced digital and genomic technologies in healthcare, particularly those concerned with patient safety, data governance, equality and fairness, and respect for human dignity.’
Figure 7.5 below shows the growing demand for ethics as a skill. Over the past two years, this demand has increased by 31% year on year.

Figure 7.5: No. roles per year listing ‘Ethics’ as a skill, Source: Adzuna

YearNo. of advertised roles
20165878
20175193
20185164
20196774

Table 7.5: No. roles per year listing ‘Ethics’ as a skill, Source: Adzuna

Table 7.6 shows the roles that list ‘ethics’ as a skill to have:

Supplier ManagerIT Project ManagerSourcing ManagerTechnician MechanicProduct Design Engineer
QA/QC AnalystSEO AnalystVerification EngineerAuditorAdministrator Coordinator
Desktop EngineerControl Systems EngineerSpecialistSafety EngineerGeographic Information Systems Specialist
Maintenance SupervisorPlatform EngineerVendor ManagerLogistics AssistantFinancial Auditor
InternshipTechnical Account ManagerIT System AdministratorTechnical ArchitectHead of Engineering
FabricatorCivil EngineerHealth and Safety ManagerContinuous Improvement EngineerPolicy Adviser
Risk ManagerDevelopment Team LeaderTrainer AssessorQuantity Surveyor UtilitiesProduct Quality Inspector
Communications OfficerDesign EngineerAssembly Test TechnicianCAD Design EngineerProduction Engineer

Table 7.6: Roles requiring ethics as a skill, Source: Adzuna,

Health Technology Industry

How is technology influencing the health care industry and what impact will this have?


The UK received $2.1billion worth of investment in 2019 for health tech. According to the Data Commons (Dealroom, 2020), the UK’s open database for the tech ecosystem, there are currently 2,192 health tech start-ups and scale-ups within the UK, with 39 of these companies founded in 2019. The competition for these important roles and skills is high.

 

Conclusions

The impact of the national lockdown since March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has seen unprecedented levels of technology driven change at pace and scale due to the effects of remote working. This change is likely to continue, and deepen over the coming years, truly changing the technology landscape for all companies and not just the digitally integrated front runners.

This report has explored the type of roles in demand and the key areas where there is a growing trend in roles and skills across two data sets – Adzuna (the wider sector) and NHS Jobs advertised on the Find a Job Website (NHS organisations). 

The report found that while the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of advertised roles in the UK, the demand for digital, data and technology roles still outweighed the demand for other roles across the different occupational categories.

There are many areas that are still ripe for future growth in the NHS and this may require some demand stimulus. Industry trends describe labour market dynamics for skills, job groups, and roles, providing actionable information when confronted with questions such as, “How is employer demand for a Software Developer changing, and what can I do to be a more attractive employer to retain Software professionals?” 

Taking the insights on board in this report, there is a responsibility on all 21st Century institutions, particularly if they want to embrace a future with digital. It is positive that the NHS and Health Education England are embracing the rapid change in skill sets imposed by emerging technologies to better understand the labour market and occupational dynamics. Acting on the information outlined in this report will enable the NHS to capitalise on the amazing digital talent that exists across the country, to ensure that the NHS can provide its commitment to delivering data driven healthcare at the highest level of quality. 

The following action points should be considered:

●   Invest in supply models for in demand roles: The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 reduced the number of advertised roles in the UK.  However, the demand for digital, data and technology roles still outweigh the demand for other roles across the different occupational categories. For the NHS and Social Care system, digital and technology skills are becoming increasingly important than ever before. Given the deficit that already exists across sectors, and the move to remote working, remote consultations has increased demand for digital skills. The digital transformation required in services cannot exist without robust IT services, infrastructure and support, so ensuring that there are recruitment models and mechanisms funded to support the supply of the most in demand roles in IT, for example, Software Developers, IT Systems Developer, IT Systems Analyst, IT Project Managers and the digital storytellers and translators e.g. Product Managers, UX Designers, User Researchers and Service Managers is critical. 

●     Get ahead with demand stimulus models for future in demand roles: Review the areas for growth based on industry trends, such as the employer demand for Software Developer across all sectors. The consistent growth year on year for Data Scientists and the growing demand for skills in AI, Cyber Security, Cloud Engineering and Ethics, as a cross cutting skill set over the past three years, are career development areas for further focus on planning and investment. Other likely in demand roles include DevOps Engineer, Full Stack Developer and IT System Architect. 

●    Understand how remote working will play out in the medium to long term on demand for roles and employment models: Due to the impact of COVID-19, remote working for those in data, digital and technology roles has become common and unlikely to return to pre COVID-19 culture. It will be critical to understand the short, medium, and long-term impacts, risks and opportunities of this transition when people are no longer travelling to and relocating to specific geographic areas for their place of work. This could give organisations opportunities to source a greater talent pool from wider geographic areas. This could also risk impacting on retention dynamics in the NHS if people can easily move jobs without having to physically relocate. Higher salary can attract the required talent, without much risk on individual circumstances, such as the negative impacts on costs of living.  

●    Understand the potential occupational dynamics due to geographic salary variation: Due to the impact of COVID-19 and remote working in digital, data and technology jobs, it will be important to understand any regional geographic economic dynamics that are driving competitive salary rates. As the requirement to relocate and travel for jobs diminishes in the short to medium term, and the economic impact of lockdown in 2020 impacts on the employment rates in the labour market, it is not yet clear what the economic impact will be on competitive salary rates in high demand jobs. For example, Newcastle offers the best cost of living index for roles in data, digital and technology in this analysis, London offers the highest salaries. There is no requirement for a Software Developer to relocate to London from Newcastle, attracted by a higher salary, to do the same job. As a result, this leaves the labour market wide open. 

●    Future use of labour market data analytics as a tool in workforce planning: Further developing the methodology and analysis of demand in the labour market could help the NHS better prepare and plan for in demand digital roles. e.g. Adzuna tracks job role demand in sectors such as IT on a monthly basis, to understand current trends. Adopting this approach may help the NHS to better understand the occupational dynamics in the wider marketplace, where skills not jobs, are the new labour market metric. Using skills as a variable of analysis provides a powerful tool in helping planners prepare for the future while building resilience in the present day.

●    Encourage the use of gender decoding software when developing job adverts: Job adverts should continue to have a balanced narrative to ensure women can continue to be attracted into technology and digital roles, particularly where there is a high demand for specific skills and roles, such as Cyber Security and Software Development.  

●    Understand the level of demand for Cyber Security roles and Cyber Security skills to ensure patient safety is secure: Since the WannaCry attack on the NHS in 2017, awareness of cyber-attack risk has significantly increased. However, only 30 roles were advertised in the NHS (NHS Jobs) during 2018 – 2020. In the comparable Adzuna dataset, 33,750 roles for Cyber Security were advertised. Given the high demand for these essential skills, the NHS will be in competition with the wider sector and hiring of more cyber security professionals into IT teams, with the ability to educate the wider workforce in information security is essential. Lord Darzi’s 2019 report on Cyber Security in the NHS, suggests “a combination of out-dated computer systems, lack of investment, and a deficit of skills and awareness in cyber security is placing NHS hospitals at risk”.

●   Invest in the Health Data Team and Data Science: Although Analysts (usually Health Data Analysts) are in demand and appear in the top ten roles in NHS Jobs, the median salary offered in the NHS compared to the industry standard is £11.5k less. Investing in health data analytics, data science and ensuring that data teams are recognised as a critical domain and service is essential if the NHS is to deliver the high-quality data driven health care it promises. A recent paper (Goldacre et al., 2020) , by Ben Goldacre Bringing NHS data analysis into the 21stCentury, published in July 2020 concludes that “there are huge opportunities for using data science to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care.” A list of tangible goals that describe the outcomes that will bring health data analysis into the 21st century, include “NHS analysts are seen as essential members of the workforce and are appropriately treated and rewarded.”

●    Understand the future of Clinical Coding: This is a discovery analysis that does not supply long term trends for Clinical Coding. Monitor to understand if demand for this role is declining due to the observations that the role will either be replaced by automation or absorbed into other roles in the future.  

●    Understand the apparent lack of demand for specialist digital skills in the NHS: In this analysis, there was no evidence of demand for any other specialised software, other than .net, which runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. Within the top 15 skills in demand on an industry wide basis (Adzuna data set), skills such as Javascript, SQL and C# were requested. This could be that the more specialised software skills were detailed on the embedded job descriptions on NHS Digital and NHS Jobs websites, which were not scraped and could not be analysed. Or, it could be that these skills are in low demand as the NHS is still reliant on a culture that relies on data analysis as ‘manual labour in Excel’ and does not request them in job advertisements. 

●  Define workforce terminology clearly and have one version of the truth: NHS organisations should agree and work towards building a consolidated single view or database of all their Informatics staff, with standardised job titles.  This would make it far easier to monitor and evaluate performance against many of these recommended actions.

 

Methodology

Data collection

Activity to date: Workforce Planning and Intelligence (WP&I) colleagues in HEE have provided Adzuna with a list of 10,878 separate raw job titles which have been mined from the sample of health informatics workforce on the Electronic Staff Record (sample of 38k) They have inspected each title within their own ontology of approximately 5,500 job titles. When a match is made, a normalised job title is made alongside the raw title. 

Results: Approximately 90% of the 10,878 job titles have been normalised. However, that does still leave about 10%, and not all the 90% have been correctly matched (perhaps just incorrectly matched, or maybe matched to titles which are too generic - 'manager' being the classic example).

There are a lot of specialist roles within the list and Adzuna don't have them all.

Adzuna will spend some time improving the ontology to better handle some of these titles. 

To ensure that the report was able to accurately reflect healthcare informatics roles, HEE provided Adzuna with 216 unique job titles in this domain. Each of these was manually checked to see if it was present in the ontology and added where required.

Limitations with data sources: The DWP Find a Job Website does not hold the job description and person specification details for current jobs on the NHS Jobs platform. The link for ‘apply to jobs’ allows access to the NHS Jobs website where the person specification and job description information is held. Information on digital skills will be held in these documents and the cost to scrape and cleanse the data would be prohibitive to the benefits realised. 

NHS Jobs website limitations: With regards to social care and local authority roles, there does not appear to be a central advertising source. Some local authorities advertise their health-related roles on NHS Jobs, but the volumes of local authorities and adverts placed are extremely low. (NHS BSA Nov 2019). Adzuna, have access to 90% of jobs advertised in UK labour market and therefore should ensure good coverage in social care. 

This will be a benchmarking exercise, as the NHS Jobs website 1) advertises a variable amount of job roles with general and specific digital skills in digital, health informatics and clinical informatic roles and 2) the NHS Jobs website holds job descriptions and person specifications as word and Adobe documents. The Adzuna market data has a list of digital skills mapped to the job titles within the ontology and the roles will be benchmarked to these. 

Adzuna

Adzuna.co.uk is an online search engine for job adverts used by over 10 million visitors per month that aims to list every job, everywhere. Adzuna collates information from thousands of different sources in the UK. These range from direct employers’ websites to recruitment software providers to traditional job boards thus providing a comprehensive view of current online job adverts.

All adverts are first processed using data cleaning methods such as removing duplicate job adverts, as well as applying minimum quality thresholds on key data fields.  Lastly, the job advert data is augmented using Adzuna's proprietary ontology comprising over 5,000 occupations and 6,000 skills. Advanced text matching methods are used to standardise job titles using text cleaning methods plus thousands of additional synonyms which are incorporated within the ontology.

Adzuna's data is currently used by the ONS to produce their latest weekly indicators on UK job vacancies.

For this report aggregated datasets were provided by Adzuna, these consisted of two main data sources:

  • Adzuna job advertisement data
  • FindaJob NHS Jobs site

The Adzuna dataset from January 2015 - April 2020 gave us access to over 88 million rows of data.

The data from FindaJob NHS Jobs runs from May 2018 to mid April 2020, just under 865,000 rows of data.

NHS jobs are advertised through the FindaJob website.

Data from Adzuna job advertisements and NHS jobs website consisted of the job title, job description, category of the job, seniority (limited data) location, skills, company (limited data). 

Of the categories provided, digital, data and technology jobs are defined by and including all types of IT, engineering, data and digital roles.

Summary statistics are shown in the table below, based on the number of data points used. In this report, we reported on the median salary, this was to avoid any skew that lowest paid roles and highest paid roles would have on the average figure. 

The lower quartile is essentially one quarter along the way, the median is the middle number, the mean is the sum of terms, divided by the number of terms and the upper quartile is three quarters along the way - these are metrics used to report on the salary for digital, data and technology roles . We see that between the median and mean salary figures, there is a huge difference. Bearing in mind that there were not many senior positions for digital, data and technology based roles, reporting on the mean would have been misleading.

Data SourceLower QuartileMedianMeanUpper QuartileNNA's
Adzuna£28,500£39,000£77,249£55,00088126300927599
NHS jobs£21,756£27,631£39,515£38,132135723898

Table 8, Source: Adzuna, FindaJob NHS jobs

Limitations in the datasets

Within the NHS jobs data, for the year 2020, there was no salary provided, so we could not report any findings on this. The dataset ran from May 2018 to April 2020. This dataset covers all of the UK and the definition of digital data and technology roles are based upon Adzuna’s ontology not the Electronic Staff Record. This helps us with exploring general trends, however there is a possibility of duplicated job advertisements and therefore is not 100% accurate

Skills


We analysed the top skills, based on a frequency weighting (TF-IDF). This calculates values for each word per job advertisement in relation to the percentage of job advertisements the word appears in.

Words with a high frequency weighting, implies the importance and strong relationship of the term with regards to the category, or a specific role if looked at.

We then removed from this list terms that were not providing distinctive value in terms of the digital skills needed. This included skills such as ‘nhs’, ‘surgery’, hospitals’. Which generally made reference to the background/experience needed.

Numbeo

Numbeo (Numbeo, 2009)  provides cost of living indexes for cities globally.

Within this report, we used Numbeo’s cost of living index to understand salary offerings per city. Numbeo uses a linear rank, so we were able to calculate the overall ranking scores for clusters shown in this report. 

Here is an extract from Numbeo’s website, from their methodology section on how they calculate the cost of living ratio per city, globally.

Collecting and processing data

To collect data Numbeo relies on user inputs and manually collected data from authoritative sources (websites of supermarkets, taxi company websites, governmental institutions, newspaper articles, other surveys, etc.). Manually collected data from established sources are entered twice per year.

We perform automatic and semi-automatic filters to filter out noise data. We utilize user behavior and previous data for the city/country to determine likelihood of a certain input whether it is considered spam. There are more than 30 sophisticated filters in use. The performance rate of the filter is enhanced once more inputs are included. 

One of the advanced filters tries to eliminate bad training data. It digs into discarded data (spam data) and if it notices irregularities, it moves them back into the calculation. The algorithm which determines irregular spam data uses the following filter: if for a single item in a city exists a high number of classified spam data with a relatively small standard deviance from users that have more positive inputs, that means these data are misclassified and the algorithm fix it to the proper classification. 

To summarize our filters, Numbeo uses heuristic technology to get the data quality. Using the existing data Numbeo periodically discards data which are most likely incorrect statistically. 

Numbeo also archives the values of old data (our default data deprecation policy is 12 months, although we use data up to 18 months old when we do not have fresh data and indicators are suggesting that inflation is low in a particular country). The values of old data are preserved to be used for historical purposes.

Aggregating data for a country

To aggregate data for a country, we use all entries (for all cities) to calculate average country data. Note that it is different from the aggregating calculated data for all cities in that country. So, in calculations for the country, we are weighting a city by the number of contributors. Since there are higher number of inputs for a country than for a city, aggregate data showed on a country level consists, in general, much more data points.”

Gender Decoder software 

We analysed several of the most advertised roles on the NHS Jobs site, to understand whether there was gender bias within the job descriptions.

Two sites were used to get the analysis of the job descriptions, it was  found that Gender Decoder provided the best analysis on masculine and feminine based words.

Gender Decoder have a list of masculine and feminine words within their database that they check job descriptions against.

 

References

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Adzuna (2011) Adzuna website Available at: https://www.adzuna.co.uk (accessed June 2020)

NHS Jobs (2020) NHS Jobs website Available at: https://www.jobs.nhs.uk/xi/browsejobs/ (accessed April 2020)

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The team that worked on this report includes:

Tech Nation: Diana Akanho, Lucy Cousins, Carly Minsky, George Windsor, Jae Lee, Glen Learmond, Anne Marie 

Adzuna: James Neave

Health Education England: Nicola Calder