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Tech sector steams ahead in face of Brexit

Salaries and hiring in the UK have remained stagnant since the announcement the UK would be leaving the EU, but the tech sector has not followed this trend

Technology sector hiring has continued to increase in the wake of Brexit, despite overall salaries and role creation feeling the pinch as companies err on the side of caution.

Research by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters found salaries for professionals stayed steady in 2019 overall as a result of uncertainty surrounding Brexit stifling company spending.

But it also found some industries have not followed the same trend, with advertised IT roles increasing by 11% between 2016 and 2018, and IT roles outside of London predicted to see a 20% increase in salary over the coming year.

“London has what is probably the best pool of talent in the world in terms of tech, and will continue to thrive and lead in this area,” said Ahsan Iqbal, director of IT at Robert Walters. “However, we are seeing a rebalancing in terms of regional centres such as Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds growing even more strongly in terms of tech jobs, which is a good thing for the economy.”

London attracted more technology talent than the rest of Europe in 2018, and has more software developers than any other city in Europe.

But Robert Walters also found other regional technology hubs across the UK are increasing the number of available technology jobs, with the number of jobs created in Manchester up 29% between 2016 and 2018.

Leeds saw a 22% increase in tech role creation in the same time period, and Birmingham saw a 20% increase in the number of advertised technology roles between 2016 and 2018. Iqbal said this trend of talent moving towards tech hubs outside of London is being driven by a “candidate shortage” in some parts of the technology sector of London.

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When the UK announced it would be leaving the European Union, there was an outcry of concern from the technology industry that tech talent in the UK would be negatively impacted, and skills gaps would continue to widen as the number of skilled technology workers in the UK from the EU would begin to fall.

Half of highly skilled workers from the EU currently working in the UK are considering leaving the region because of the Brexit vote.

Despite concerns about talent, Robert Walters found more technology talent came from outside of the UK than left in 2018, and the amount of overseas talent coming into the region over the next year is expected to increase.

“The UK tech sector is continuing to grow strongly and we expect that to continue,” said Iqbal. “It’s not one that is overly dependent on supply chains and is a genuinely global sector, so it appears to be largely unaffected by Brexit.”

Other research has also found an increase in technology salaries in the UK over time – the Association for Project Management found that 64% of project professionals working in technology expect their pay and benefits to increase over the next year.

It also found a quarter of IT project-focused professionals make £70,000 or above a year, but there were some concerns over how the economy will develop over the next 12 months, with 44% saying they believe prospects for the economy will be poor or very poor over the next year.

Companies have been tightening their technology spend in the wake of uncertainty caused by Brexit, and some believe other countries are better equipped to take on technology talent.

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