What We Learnt From the UK’s Latest Tech Nation Report

Tech Nation’s latest report detailing the continued growth of the UK digital industry has been released for 2016. The company, created by the Conservative government in 2010 as a non-profit to support London’s developing digital tech industry, offers an insight into the country’s move towards a digital workforce. The analysis, complied by Tech City UK with support from the charity Nesta, offers a real insight into the UK’s burgeoning digital scene. While it is no surprise that the growth of industry for digital tech here in the UK outpaced traditional industry, some of the more interesting findings highlight the shift that some business are undergoing.

Marketing companies moving online

Tech Nation highlights the fact that marketing is increasingly becoming a digital concern. The survey reports that nearly 45% of UK marketing firms now routinely provide digital technical services as an important revenue source, alongside an across the board digital growth for nearly all UK sectors, from publishing to agriculture. While naturally some industries are experiencing a slower move towards digital tech, it is interesting to note that even the most traditional sectors are incorporating more digital employment in efforts to compete.

One million online digital jobs

The UK has also seen a record number of digital jobs being advertised online. Over the first nine months of 2015, over a million positions were offered in a digital role. Salaries also saw a rise, with the average position now offering nearly £50,000, a rate 36% higher than national averages. This highlights the resilience that the digital tech industry has shown against the financial difficulties experienced in previous years, with a rebound that far outpaced the rest of the economy.

Lack of talent

While the survey shows a general increase in positions and pay, it seems the greatest obstacle to future digital growth is a lack of talent, even more so than access to finance, the traditional limiting factor to new industries. Overall, 43% of businesses reporting on the frustrations they have encountered while operating in the UK digital sector stated that finding decent employees was their primary concern. The report states that 39% of companies have had major problems with access to finance, with regulation and lack of advice being seen as of least concern.

This situation is echoed by a report completed by Econsultancy (Effective Leadership in the Digital Age) into digital trends, suggesting that efforts to facilitate digital industry have outpaced education and public awareness of the need for a new talented workforce. Governmental initiatives to start-ups and the digital tech’s reduced need for large workspaces show that a change of perception may be required.

Job growth in the digital tech workforce

In the UK, there are 1.56 million digital tech jobs provided by 58,000 digital tech employers. The surprising aspect of the report is that many of these positions exist outside of London and within businesses traditionally viewed as non-digital, highlighting a general trend across the economy as a whole. The UK’s workforce grew by 4% between 2011 and 2014 while digital jobs saw an increase of 11.2%. Furthermore, with 41% of digital tech jobs located in traditional industries and only 20% inside London, the digital workforce is becoming more widespread.

Data management and software versus hardware

Tech Nation also reports on the nature of digital tech companies. Software-based businesses came out on top, with software and app developers making up 16.7% of the industry as a whole, alongside 11.7% for data management and analytics compared with 11.3% for hardware. Online gambling and gaming have made an interesting rise alongside global trends, with a combined presence of 3.1%.


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