Almost 40% of UK tech talent resides in London bubble

Despite cities around the UK being home to a multitude of tech talent, the London bubble still prevails, with a majority of those with digital skills collecting in the capital

London has the largest collection of technology talent in the UK, with 37% of the UK’s technology talent residing in the capital, according to research.

A study of LinkedIn profiles by tech firm Accenture found a large part of the UK’s talent pool is collected in London, as well as around 187,427 technology companies.

But other cities around the UK also have thriving tech scenes, especially Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh, which have a talent supply of 8,543, 11,035 and 10,543 skilled tech workers respectively.

Zahra Bahrololoumi, head of Accenture Technology in the UK and Ireland, said: “London is currently the default choice for many, but we want to prove that the capital is far from the only option. Availability of talent is one of the biggest factors in establishing a successful technology business.

“We’ve found that there’s so much of this talent in other cities, but it’s being overlooked. Once businesses realise the potential and bring more opportunities to people in other cities, we can create a tech economy that benefits the entire country, rather than just London.”

There have often been concerns about the divide between London and the rest of the UK when it comes to the even spread of technology talent, with some doing what they can to promote the growth of technology talent pools outside of the UK’s capital.

Across the UK, there is a focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, extended reality, digital ethics and responsibility, quantum computing, and blockchain, with around 162,000 advertised job vacancies involving these emerging skills.

In London alone, 63,000 jobs are being advertised which involve emerging technologies – this number of advertised jobs is higher than all job vacancies in emerging tech in 10 other major UK cities combined.

Accenture predicted this discrepancy, along with differences in salaries in and outside of London, could drive more tech talent towards London, increasing the skills gap between London and the rest of the UK.

But certain areas outside of London in the UK seem to have a particular focus on one or more emerging technologies. In 2018, there were five new innovation hubs opened by various businesses in Edinburgh with a focus on data science and technology, for example.

Outside of London, Cambridge has the largest pool of talent which specialises in AI, while Birmingham has the largest concentration of startups outside of London.

When focusing on emerging technologies across the UK, the topic of digital ethics and responsibility is seeing the number of job postings outstrip the UK’s available talent supply. Accenture found 21,860 job postings which asked for these skills, while only 12,928 tech professionals across the UK claimed to consider this in their roles.

Data analytics is the most popular of the emerging technologies, with 59% of tech talent claiming to have skills in the subject. Accenture found 120,008 job postings mentioning the technology, and 249,256 people with the skills needed to use this particular tech.

Almost 20% of all digital talent across the UK have a focus on AI, and machine learning was the most common type of skill listed by AI professionals, with 45% of AI talent claiming to work with machine learning.

There has also been a growing focus on extended reality – 8% of technology talent in the UK is focused on extended reality technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality.

“We see these emerging technologies as being crucial for the future of British business. As we head towards a post-digital era, having the ability to combine these technologies will create a step-change in what can be achieved, enabling businesses to create people-first experiences that truly differentiate them,” said Bahrololoumi.

“Companies will need to tap into a range of different talents and having professionals with varied skills at their fingertips makes these cities stand out.”

But some other emerging technologies are not as popular as their buzzword may make you think – while 10% of tech talent have skills in blockchain, only 3,017 job postings mentioned the technology.

Quantum computing, while emerging and potentially important, also had both a low demand for talent and a small talent pool – only 1.2% of tech professionals have exposure to the technology.

While technology remains an important and growing focus in the UK, there are concerns over access to technology talent once the UK leaves the European Union.

Not only does a large percentage of tech talent in the UK come from overseas, but the number of European people choosing the leave the UK is the highest it has been for 10 years.

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