Preston calling: Tech surge fuels Northern jobs boom

prestonPreston might have been the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ Hard Times but it seems the boomtime for the UK tech sector is triggering a surge in jobs in the town, with around 12,600 new tech businesses launching in the area in 2020, more than anywhere else in the country.

In fact, this success is being replicated across the UK, and the number of advertised technology-related roles in the UK is now 42% higher than it was before the pandemic in 2019.

Last week, it was revealed that British firms had witnessed record year of investment with a host of mega deals sending venture capital funding soaring to £13.5bn in the first six months of the year alone.

Now, data from online recruitment company Adzuna shows this bonanza has led to a surge in hiring across the country, with some of the sharpest increases in places like Preston, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

There are currently more than 42,000 start-ups and nearly 10,000 corporate tech companies across the country, all competing for the industry’s brightest minds, according to Adzuna co-founder Andrew Hunter.

He added: “Companies from Cornwall in the South West to Dundee in the North are increasing their digital teams, from large multinationals to burgeoning startups. We’re seeing an uptick in demand for non-tech roles at digital companies too as businesses scale up. The challenge will be ensuring there is enough skilled talent to go around.”

Advertised digital tech roles across all UK cities are increasing year on year, up from 19% in 2018 to 23% in 2020. Edinburgh was listed as the leading city for job ads, with the number of tech-related roles up 30%.

The Scottish capital is closely followed by Reading and Glasgow, with 29% and 28% of all opportunities across the respective cities being tech-based.

Preston, however, has emerged as the tech hub to watch, with a 53% increase in digital roles since 2018.

Data scientists are seen as an essential role for organisations due to the increasing need for businesses to extract, analyse, and interpret large amounts of data, with software developers also in demand with even junior developers commanding a salary of around £27,500.

Last week, an Experian report claimed that the UK must do more to dispel the myths about the qualifications and skills required for a career in the data industry, amid claims that misconceptions are hindering students from joining the sector.

Experian surveyed 2,001 UK adults (16+) in education and found over two thirds (68%) believe you need key qualifications in maths and/or science in order to work with data. Almost three quarters (72%) also believe that you must have specific data skills in order to apply for a data-related job.

The company is calling on businesses and government to work together to entice more students from a wide range of backgrounds into careers working with data.

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