Technology is flourishing across Britain – not just in the Silicon roundabout. Tech City UK’s Tech Nation report recently found that a full three quarters of digital companies across the country are based outside of London. This is supported by our own Tech Cities Jobs Watch report where we noted a 10% drop in Q2 for IT roles advertised in London, compared to a 3% increase in other UK cities.
These numbers represent a small part of the larger story of an expanding ecosystem of tech roles and innovation beyond the conventional hotspots. London’s position as a dominant hub for innovative digital businesses and tech-start-ups is unlikely to change any time soon – but a number of factors are creating a larger pull to establish clusters of tech expertise across the country. Below, we’ll look at a few of the forces that are encouraging the growth of digital Britain, and how it’s affecting the way businesses everywhere hire and operate.
The number of IT roles outside of the Capital is increasing
One of the major forces in the digitalisation of Britain is the rapid rise in both the number and variety of roles available outside the Capital. In one sense, this is an inevitable by-product of the way technology has become part of all aspects of our lives. Nearly all businesses in the UK are dependent on technology to operate, meaning a demand for IT skills for operations, sales and security is pressing.
Big Data provides an example where the number of roles advertised in Tech Cities outside of the Capital increased by 18% since the start of the year. Echoing this trend, Mobile Development and Cloud roles increased by six and 13% respectively. As businesses large and small adopt more digital practices, the subsequent demand for IT professionals with skills in key tech disciplines will continue to rise.
Cost is another factor affecting the increase in the number of jobs available in alternative tech cities. As tech infrastructure across the country has improved, it has become even easier for businesses to operate and work with teams in remote locations. Cost-conscious businesses are taking note of the potential benefits of moving functions away from London where they can operate more affordably, while also appealing to IT professionals who are seeking a different quality of life than they can get in the Capital.
Tech cities increasingly entice IT talent away from the Capital with competitive pay
With more and more organisations across the UK battling to attract tech professionals, advertised salaries have been shifting to reflect the competition. London’s average salary for permanent roles, covered by our report, has remained the highest in the UK. They rose in Q2 2015 to £53,107 – roughly 3% higher than the average in Q4 2014.
However, cities outside the Capital have kept pace: Cambridge, one of the largest UK hubs of digital business and innovation, and Bristol another of the UK’s longstanding tech clusters, both saw salaries increase over the averages recorded at the end of 2014, by 3% and 2.5% respectively. At the halfway point, 2015 figures from Tech Cities Job Watch indicated upwards pressure on permanent salaries across the country.
Contract roles often present an opportunity for companies to bring in talent for short term projects, or to fill a gap while a more permanent solution is offered. It is also a chance for companies outside of the Capital facing skills shortages to entice specialist expertise from further away. Big Data roles have consistently commanded the highest average day rates, and in Q2 2015 Brighton and Birmingham were offering average day rates of £675, 26% higher than the London average.
As we continue to monitor the hiring trends that evolve and Britain proceeds with its digital evolution, we can expect to see organisations increasingly recognise the need for talent that has been developed in cities such as London and Manchester, and to continue to stump up the necessary cash to attract them.
The demand for skills is growing outside of London
Technology continues to evolve, and with it the demands and expectation of customers and staff. The skills and languages needed to provide services are also growing.
I’ve discussed above how skills in Big Data (Apache Hadoop, Splice Machine, Tableau and SAP HANA) and Cloud development (Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and MS Office365) have become more sought after by firms outside of big cities. We can only expect this to continue as more businesses, large and small, use IT to augment a wider section of their work.
The private sector organisations across the country also face competition for skills from the public sector – which is undergoing major digital transformations, subsequently requiring large numbers of skilled IT talent.
Other, more sinister forces are also having an effect on the demand for IT skills. In the wake of high profile cyber security breaches and attacks, businesses of all sizes are having to invest heavily in IT security. This is driving increased demand for SIEM (Systems Intrusion and Event Management) and IDAM (Identity Access Management) experts and biometrics specialists.
As long as technology marches forward at its current breakneck pace, so will the hiring trends shaping the evolution of digital Britain.