High-value tech jobs boom outside London

New analysis of the 2.1 million people that work in the digital tech sector has captured the extent to which the digital tech sector is spreading beyond its stronghold in London and the South East.

Research for the Government’s Digital Economy Council by Tech Nation looked at data from ONS, jobs website Adzuna and cost of living database Numbeo, to shed new light on the opportunities the digital economy is creating across the country.

Analysis shows that 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 the digital tech sector, while in Reading it is a third.

Cities including Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff are also developing significant tech clusters. 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.

These fast-growing tech hubs are adding jobs at a rapid rate - with almost 1.7m positions advertised during 2018 across the 12 biggest tech centres. Outside London, the cities with the most tech openings were Manchester, where digital commerce and marketing is strong, with 164,000 roles and Leeds, with 88,000 jobs.

When cost of living is taken into account, cities including Leeds and Belfast are even better places to be looking for work than London. For example, 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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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