With a rich history of innovation and digital leadership, being a Techie in Britain has always been a safe bet for a future that promises opportunity to thrive and excel.
However, with recent political and social developments stirring the pot, what does the future actually look like for the technology industry? Moreover, how could developments effect the individual working in the sector?
Over a third of European ‘unicorns’ (technology firms worth over $1bn) were founded in the UK, putting the nation forward as the leading contender in Europe’s Tech hub.
Over recent years, it’s indisputable that the industry has seen masses of growth and investment. The birth of TechCity in 2010 led to masses of investors building the ‘Silicon roundabout’ and some of the biggest Tech names such as Worldpay and Zoopla have emerged from the Smog. The sector ‘accounts for 1.56 million jobs nationwide’.
Furthermore, there has been a 92% increase in Technology start-ups over the last three years. According to Rebecca Taylor from Clos Consultancy ‘Tech is growing three times faster than any other sector in the UK economy and creating 50,000 jobs over the North of England’, which shows success even at a localised level.
Looking more broadly, the UK has historically been the largest source of Tech talent in Europe, contributing 15% to the workforce.
The industry, and entire country for that matter, experienced an overnight stir after the Brexit vote in June 2016. This opened the path which will eventually lead to Britain leaving the European Union. With the value of the pound plummeting overnight, concern spread like wildfire. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock over the past year, it’s hard to escape all the news of what’s been happening.
The direct impact felt on the Tech industry has since been somewhat mixed. Some have reported concern from entrepreneurs, who are taking a step back from the risk involved, even claiming ‘a few start-ups have already relocated’ as a direct result. There is also debate surrounding the effects of changing working conditions for migrants both leaving and entering the UK.
According to the Guardian, a staggering 45% of recent digital vacancies were filled by foreign-born workers. Impending changes to the freedom of movement are bound to have a huge effect on the tech talent pool. Moreover, the country is experiencing a massive shortage of home-grown talent, with the number of Computing graduates reaching a stagnant point that simply does not meet demand and, instead, breeds concern for the looming skill shortage.
This problem is seemingly global. The US is also experiencing a similar shortage in Tech knowledge with ‘607,708 open computing jobs in the US, but only 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce’.
Their own political turbulence with the recent travel ban, implemented by President Trump, has seen growing concern from some of the biggest Technology leaders who are speaking out against the presidency and threatening the stability of the powerful Tech institution of Silicon Valley. Remarkably, this seems to be turning the tables for the UK, and most recently, drawing some of the largest Tech companies to invest in the UK.
Statements are surfacing that the UK’s ‘tech industry, even if few people have noticed, is gathering strength and depth’.
The relationship between the UK and US is important for the industry and analysing what life in Tech could be like. Aside from the similarities in skills shortage and changing working freedom, there is huge disparity in the life of Technology experts in both counties.
Based on data from Mason Frank’s Salary Survey, the average US Salesforce mid-level developer can expect to earn approximately double that of their UK counterpart. Taking aside any living cost fluctuations, that’s a massive gap given the UK’s global Tech status.
UK Technology is a changing, growing landscape and we can certainly predict that life in the industry will change in the coming years. A shift in attitudes for educating Tech professionals seems to be the only route in nurturing the talent we are so desperate for.
Opportunities to work abroad may be limited in our future, however, despite our economy, things here in the UK are relatively stable. The 2017 UK digital strategy shows there is direction for investment and pushing things forward. Despite global, political concerns for the world economy, technology is probably your safest bet for a good career.
Maria works for niche IT recruitment company, Mason Frank International. They have become one of the world's foremost providers of high-calibre permanent and freelance Salesforce professionals. Maria is passionate about responsible marketing and the growing digital world.@MazBaranowska