Despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing significant disruption to businesses this year, the technology sector continues to thrive in city regions across the South West.
For example in Bristol, tech has overtaken engineering as the fastest-growing industry with more than $1bn invested in the city since 2014.
According to research by Tech Nation and job search engine Adzuna, the average salary in Bristol is £51k which is £15k higher than the average salary in the city, and recently there were 1,965 IT-related job openings, the highest of any industry in the city region. 430 tech companies now operate in Bristol employing over 8,000 people.
It’s important to also note that the pandemic is spurring tech adoption across all sectors, from health, retail and agriculture, as we evolve the way we operate and do business. Data from the 2020 Transformation with Tech report by Lloyds Bank confirmed that almost half (48%) of businesses stated that they would have ceased trading in 2020 had they not used technology during Covid-19. This equates to roughly 2.7 million businesses across the UK. 11% have set up ecommerce since March, more businesses are using cloud software and analytics capabilities. More than half of businesses have been influenced to invest in tech, but three-quarters need help with digitisation.
However, the issue of having a pipeline of skilled people entering tech roles remains critical. Tech may present many job openings in cluster regions in the South West, but competition for talent is an ever-present for employers.
Education providers, including Weston College, are certainly rising to the challenge to deliver tech talent ready for industry, and support businesses with the digital agenda.
The new T Level course, a skills-focused alternative to A Levels designed by industry, is now live at Weston College with students preparing to enter tech roles. Weston College are one of a handful of education providers in the country offering this course. The T Level training route includes students spending time on an industry placement in a business for 315 hours alongside their course, applying their skills and providing an extra pair of hands for employers.
In addition, degree apprenticeships in digital technology continue to grow in numbers as students choose the work based route and employers see four years degree level training which is 95% funded by the government as an attractive option.
Precision Dippings Manufacturing Ltd, a manufacturing business in Bristol have recently offered a degree apprenticeship in digital technology. Kate Richards, Director at PDM said: “We are a Bristol-based rubber manufacturing business and are proud of having won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for innovation in 2016 and another for international trade in 2019. We decided to recruit a digital and technology solutions degree apprentice because, knowing innovation is key to company growth, we wanted someone on our team who could specialise in digital analysis and help us with our e-commerce plans. We’re delighted with the very positive impact the apprenticeship has made – especially during the pandemic when online sales have never been more important.”
Dave Crew, Head of Employer Partnerships at Weston College said: “We’re now seeing employers from across the South West recognise Weston College as a destination for tech talent. Close alignment with industry continues to evolve, and in early 2021 we launch new apprenticeships in Cyber Security and Data Analyst, responding to demand from employers.”
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