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West Midlands expected to grow by £2.7bn with tech sector drive

The region is expected to create 52,000 job positions in the next four years

The West Midlands region is aiming for a £2.7bn boost to the local economy by 2025, as the technology sector accelerates growth.

According to a report released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the region is predicted to create an additional 52,000 technology roles in the sector over the next four years, up 55% compared with 2019.

Growth in the technology sector in the West Midlands has reached an average of 7.6% between 2014 and 2016, and it is the fastest-growing region in the UK, according to DCMS.

Tech companies in the region have raised £454m in venture capital funding in 2021 so far, the report noted, compared with £358m last year, according to figures compiled by job search engine Adzuna and investment analyst Dealroom for the UK’s Digital Economy Council and Tech Nation.

“There are high-quality and well-paid job opportunities for those who want to pursue a career in tech, and the region is fast becoming a powerhouse of digital talent,” said digital minister Chris Philp, commenting on the findings, which were part of a report on the UK’s regional digital ecosystems, released ahead of Birmingham Tech Week.

“We are determined to level up the country and are working around the clock to back digital businesses with pro-innovation policies to boost digital skills and create jobs so everyone can benefit from this dynamic sector,” he said.

The West Midlands region is also home to 1,308 technology startups, predominantly active in the edtech segment, as well as digitisation and manufacturing, according to Tech Nation’s Data Commons.

Read more about regional technology hubs in the UK

When it comes to jobs, tech vacancies in the West Midlands have increased from 5,099 in December 2020 to 9,287 in October 2021. According to the research, Birmingham is the second-top ranked city for cost of living versus salary for tech roles. Such jobs account for 22% of all openings in 2020, up 17% in relation to 2018.

According to Adzuna, the average digital tech salary in Birmingham is £51,774. The highest-paying roles in the city include data architect, with an average advertised pay of £76,052, technical architect, with an average salary of £74,043, and python developer, with an average pay of £63,480.

According to the DCMS report, there is an increased awareness of digital opportunities among young people in the region, with more digital skills and career opportunities available.

The region has been benefitting from public sector programmes geared at skills development in tech, the DCMS report said. These include Digital Entitlement, focused on the free provision of digital qualifications to adults, the Kickstart scheme, which aims to create new jobs for 16- to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment, and the recently boosted scholarships in artificial intelligence and data science.

In addition, the improvements in connectivity in the region have been highlighted in the report. According to the DCMS, gigabit coverage in the West Midlands has gone from less than 3% in 2019 to 63% in 2021. The region has the highest proportion of households with internet access in the UK, the DCMS said, at 97%.

The West Midlands is one of the areas covered in the government’s £5bn Project Gigabit, with 194,000 homes and businesses in remote areas of Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire expected to be given access to gigabit broadband through the project, with procurement set to start in November 2022. 

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