UK tech boom sees one in eight job opportunities in digital sector

A boom in investment in UK tech has led to a surge in hiring across the country with tech and IT-related vacancies now making up 13% of all UK job vacancies, up from 12.3% for the same period last year, according to data analysed by smarter job search engine Adzuna for the UK’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation.

Nearly three million people, or 9% of the UK workforce, are employed in the UK tech industry. Yet with UK tech startups and scaleups raising more money than ever before – £13.5 billion so far in the first half of 2021 – companies across the UK are hiring rapidly, to help grow their businesses. The data shows that the number of advertised tech roles is 42% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with cities including Preston, Cardiff and Edinburgh seeing some of the sharpest increases in vacancies.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “It’s been yet another record-breaking year for UK tech – and that means thousands of high-quality jobs for people across the entire country.

“The jobs are there. We’re working tirelessly to make sure people who want to start careers and businesses in tech are supported with the skills they need to fill them, and to thrive.”

Tech sweeping across the nation 

The UK now has over 42,000 startups and nearly 10,000 corporate tech companies spread across the country who are vying for the industry’s brightest talent. This means that the proportion of advertised digital tech roles across all UK cities are increasing year on year, up from 19% in 2018 to 23% in 2020. Edinburgh is leading the charge with 30% of all open job roles in the city in the tech sector – the highest of all UK cities. The Scottish capital is closely followed by Reading and Glasgow, with 29% and 28% of all opportunities in the cities in tech respectively.

Preston has emerged as a tech city to watch. It has had a 53% increase in available digital tech roles since 2018. Cardiff, Edinburgh and Liverpool have all seen an increase of 30% or more over the past two years. London, Peterborough and Glasgow have all had a 25% increase in advertised tech roles.

This rise in demand for tech jobs is also fuelling the levelling up of UK nations and regions with open vacancies for all industries rising rapidly each month. In Eastern England, overall hiring has increased by nearly 14% month on month in 2021, and 12% in North West England, South West England and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, tech vacancies make up almost 15% of all new jobs advertised.

The in-demand skills to succeed in tech 

Software developers are consistently one of the most in-demand roles from companies across the industry. A junior developer can command a salary of around £27,500, which increases to £55,000 for a more senior position. The main skills employees look for in software developers include mathematical aptitude, problem-solving skills, programming languages, accuracy and attention to detail.

Data scientists also play an essential role in organisations thanks to their ability to extract, analyse and interpret large amounts of data and turn them into insights. The top data science skills that employers are looking for include machine learning, analytics, artificial intelligence, statistics and experience with Python. Data scientists have seen their average advertised salary increase by 31% over the past two years.

There is an increasing demand for senior-level employees across all areas of tech. For instance, 89% of available roles for IT System Architects are all for senior positions. System architects divide large and complex computer systems to fulfill requirements and often have higher design responsibilities than software developers, with key skills in demand including architecture, data management, and experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS). As this work is so critical to organisations, the median advertised salary for a system architect starts at £37,500 for a junior position and rises to £70,000 for a senior role.

The UK government is investing heavily into ensuring people across the country have the skills they need to succeed in the digital sector as part of a £2.5 billion National Skills Fund. This includes £43 million to expand Skills Bootcamps. The Bootcamps are providing training to people in areas such as coding, data science and digital marketing to help them advance in their current role or switch to a new profession.

Startups are springing up to help skill up the next generation of tech workers too, such as Academy, an inclusive development platform. Founded in 2019 by The Hut Group (THG)’s former Chief People Officer Ashley Ramrachia, Academy finds and trains diverse, high-calibre graduates in software engineering and leadership. Academy Scholars are also matched with fast-growing tech companies who pay them a salary during the programme and guarantee them a job on completion.

High growth means high salaries

An increase in available jobs means employers are enticing potential candidates with high salaries. The average advertised tech salary is up to 50% higher than the average for all vacancies in the UK and is regularly increasing. The average advertised salary in the industry now stands at £55,061 compared to £54,232 in January. The average advertised salary for all jobs in the UK has decreased throughout 2021 from £37,785 in January to £36,442.

In addition, the growth of opportunities means that the tech sector now offers better-paid roles than industries such as teaching, engineering, logistics, and trade and contribution. Of these job categories, tech now represents 78% of roles in the salary band £100-150,000 and 57% of those roles between £50-70,000.

This increase in salaries is happening across the industry. Roles for front-end developers and data scientists have seen the advertised salary increase over 30% between 2018 to 2020. Software developers alone make up 9% of all advertised tech vacancies. Salaries in this role have increased 27% since 2018, from an average of £39,430 to £50,000.

It’s not just skilled tech workers that are finding interesting and well-paid work in the sector. According to the data, there has been an increase in demand for non tech roles, which are important for the delivery of tech products and services. Between 2018 and 2020, roles such as project managers, business analysts and consultants have been a top 10 in-demand role in the UK.

Dr George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation, said: “Hiring for tech roles across the UK is now higher than pre-pandemic levels, demonstrating how confidence in UK tech has grown over the past few months. From software developers to business analysts, people can have long and rewarding careers in the sector. With nearly 3 million people working in the industry already, this is set to increase steadily over the next year.”

Industry reaction

Andrew Hunter, co-founder of Adzuna, said: “Companies from Cornwall in the South West to Dundee in the North are increasing their digital teams, from large multinationals to burgeoning startups. We’re seeing an uptick in demand for non-tech roles at digital companies too as businesses scale up. The challenge will be ensuring there is enough skilled talent to go around.”

Sharmadean Reid, founder and CEO of The Stack World: “The uncertainty of the pandemic unleashed a wave of innovation across the tech sector. We have seen people diversify their businesses, take risks and develop dynamic companies, driven by the urgent need to make a difference. As an entrepreneur I urge investors to back founders from all backgrounds because that is the best way to create products and services that really matter to people.”

Suranga Chandratillake, General Partner, Balderton Capital:It is great to see global tech companies and startups alike recruiting from right across the UK. As the sector continues to grow, creating desirable, well-paid roles, we must ensure we are providing access to those roles for everyone, regardless of class, race, gender or age. Only then can we build a strong, sustainable industry that represents our communities.”

Julia Hawkins, general partner at LocalGlobe, said: “The UK is a world leader in technology and the investments that have been made over the past few years have contributed to the development of such a varied and strong ecosystem. There are so many opportunities now to work in tech and to have an impact in this exciting world as this new generation of companies grow and scale into global businesses.”

Ashley Ramrachia, founder of Academy, said: “By removing the financial barriers involved in training for a career in tech, Academy is empowering people from diverse backgrounds to pursue roles that they didn’t previously think were an option for them and at the same time helping our partner companies to discover a new pipeline of world-class talent to power their scaling businesses.”

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