George Windsor

By George Windsor

Recently it was reported that hiring at startups has collapsed, with new job listings down 20% and the number of live roles falling 13%. 

But this gloomy take is at odds with the conversations heard across the crowded rooms of London Tech Week.

This is far from being a cause for panic among the UK tech industry, as it is only a small snapshot of an overall sector that is very healthy. 

Already this year, UK tech companies have raised record funding levels (£12.4bn) despite wider pressures such as public market slowdowns, the ongoing supply chain crisis and the Russian war in Ukraine. 

The data showing that tech jobs are down is focused on startups and scaleups backed by VC money that can be vulnerable to fluctuations in the markets. 

But this set of companies is not wholly representative of either the tech sector or the wider tech economy. We use a variety of different sources including the ONS, Dealroom and jobs platforms including Adzuna to paint a fuller picture of what’s going on across the ecosystem.

And those signals show that UK tech job opportunities are at a 10-year high. Tech hiring is happening right across the spectrum from tech giants like Amazon and IBM to financial services businesses including Citi and Deloitte and leading UK companies such as Tesco. Software developers and business analysts continue to be the most in-demand roles across the country. 

Tech jobs now account for around 14% of the UK’s workforce, up from 11% in 2019. These roles are split across technical roles at tech companies such as software developers (30.2%), non-technical roles at tech companies in roles such as legal and sales (36.8%) and technical roles in companies outside the tech sector (33%). 

This shows a strong, growing ecosystem that has a healthy foundation on which to deal with the increasing challenges, at home and globally. 

Where the problem actually lies in UK tech

Where the tech sector is struggling is with supply — this is the real problem that we should be worried about. 

Where the tech sector is struggling with is supply — this is the real problem that we should be worried about. 

For every entry-level tech job advertised in the UK, there are eight senior positions available. The reason? There is simply not enough highly-skilled tech talent around to take up these roles. 

Part of this is down to companies not investing in developing junior talent. It’s also down to who gets to become part of the tech industry: according to research by Extend Ventures, all Black and multi-ethnic founding teams received an average of 1.7% of the VC investments made in the UK between 2009 and 2019, despite Black and multi-ethnic communities comprising 14% of the UK population. A large proportion of tech leaders are educated at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities; tech still unfortunately grapples with exclusivity and even elitism.

To open opportunities in tech up for all, we must raise awareness of opportunities and encourage employers to take alternative routes to hiring including employing less-experienced talent and offering training opportunities such as those provided by the likes of Multiverse and Academy. Until then, it’s going to become increasingly hard to hire the right people for the job and that will hold back the industry, and the UK as a whole, in the process. 

Dr. George Windsor is data and research director at Tech Nation. 

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