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Nearly 80,000 more tech roles filled at end of 2020 compared with end of 2019, says ONS

Thousands of jobs were created in the UK’s tech sector in 2020, according to ONS figures, with data from elsewhere also showing that the sector is poised for recovery

Nearly 80,000 more people were in tech roles in the final quarter of 2020 than there were at the same time the previous year, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In the three months between October and December 2019, there were around 1,498,000 people employed in information and communications roles, compared with 1,576,000 in same period in 2020.

When looking at role creation during the pandemic, more than 100,000 roles were added to the sector, with the ONS reporting 1,472,000 people in tech employment in the three months of April to June 2020, compared with the almost 1.6 million roles in tech found at the end of the year. 

Bev White, chief executive of the Harvey Nash Group, said that while some industries have suffered during the pandemic, others have actually been on the up.

“Although thousands of hospitality, leisure, and retail jobs have been completely wiped out by the pandemic, there are sectors that have performed strongly, with ONS figures highlighting that over half a million jobs have been created since the start of the pandemic by the public sector, and the professional, scientific and technology sectors,” she said.

“These figures also reinforce the reputation of UK tech as a sustainable job creator – and with over 100,000 jobs created since the start of the pandemic, the technology sector now employs almost 1.6 million professionals.”

The uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak caused a knock-on effect for tech hiring in many cases, with the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 initially affecting job seekers negatively before hiring picked up again towards the end of the year.

Data from elsewhere also suggests the sector is thriving despite initial pandemic uncertainty – a report from the CIPD found high levels of confidence in employment in the tech sector over the past year, second only to healthcare. Additionally, the report found that around 67% of employers in the ICT sector intend to recruit in the first quarter of 2021.   

Harvey Nash also found that while there does seem to be the promise of normality on the horizon, many aspects of the working week might change.

For example, Harvey Nash found more than a million tech workers across the UK plan to work a majority of the week from home, with 79% of tech talent saying they want to spend between three-to-five days working remotely after the pandemic.

The pandemic has also meant the ability to remote work has become more important for job seekers, according to Harvey Nash, which said remote working is now one of the top three factors tech workers consider when looking for a new role, alongside high pay and strong internal culture and leadership.

It also found that 38% of technology workers said the impact of the pandemic has changed the distance they are prepared to live from the office, with many more willing to live further away.

With many suggesting technology will play a role in the UK’s recovery post-pandemic, tech skills are as important as ever, with many working on their digital skills during lockdown, and some expressing an interest in shifting into the tech field.

White said that while the technology sector shows strong signs of future growth, more needs to be done to encourage people into tech for this growth to be supported.

“To build on this and support employment levels in the UK post-pandemic, we need to see more encouragement from industries and government to bring people into technology roles. More entry paths are needed that open up opportunities to wider and more diverse groups,” she added.

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