The technology industry is big business in the UK, contributing £200 billion a year to the economy, and growing nearly 3 times faster than the national average in 2017. While the uncertainty of the pandemic and Brexit has impacted every sector, hiring trends in IT and in the wider economy suggest that the industry has still thrived. In this article we will break down the changing landscape of tech in the UK, and how it has impacted hiring.
The pandemic means tech experts are in even higher demand
Lockdown and tier restrictions across the UK mean that businesses have quickly shifted online in order to remain viable. According to research by Robert Half, 43% of businesses have actively pursued digital transformation as a result of the pandemic, and 22% have made improvements related to e-commerce functionality. The IT and technology industry has played a key role in keeping business going and growing this year, and it comes as no surprise that the tech experts in most demand have been DevOps engineers, software developers, solutions architects and programme leads.
The tech industry has shifted to more flexible and temporary working trends
Hiring trends across the UK show that while permanent job openings are falling, temporary projects are on the rise. This shift is partially due to greater economic uncertainty, but the change in work patterns also offers tech experts the chance to seek out more varied projects.
Businesses have also been hiring remotely, with job postings for remote roles increasing by 190% since the beginning of the pandemic. Even as restrictions ease, working from home isn’t going anywhere. 89% of UK employers believe that hybrid working – which features a mixture of remote and office-based work – is the future.
Rapidly changing technology means more emerging jobs in the sector
Even before the pandemic, industry hiring trends were changing to meet the new challenges and requirements of technological advancements. LinkedIn recently reported that 33% of professionals working in emerging jobs are employed by IT services and computer software industries. The role of Artificial Intelligence Specialist is the number one emerging job in the UK, with a staggering 18x the talent employed in this role compared to 2015. Cybersecurity and GDPR are also a key area of hiring growth in the industry, with Data Protection Officer being the second largest emerging job in the UK.
It is clear that hirers in the industry are hungry for emerging talent and expertise to ensure the viability of their products and services going forward. At Prolancer we recognise this urgency, which is why we are a member of TechWorks, an industry association with a mission to strengthen the UK’s deep tech capabilities as a global leader of future technologies.
Tech industries still lack diverse workforces
Trends across the past decade show that the technology industry is still struggling with diverse hiring. In 2019 WISE reported that women only make up 16% of IT professionals, a percentage that has remained static for the past 10 years. Moreover, only 4% of the UK tech workforce is Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME).
With increasing pressure on businesses to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds, and build infrastructures to support marginalised people in accessing tech opportunities, the industry needs to ensure hiring practices and outreach programmes are reaching the right demographics. This could be supported by the greater use of AI in hiring, which serves to remove some individual bias from the process. However, the success of AI in finding the best candidates also depends on the bias of the developers themselves. That is why organisations like Diversity in Tech and Women in Tech, who exist to campaign for better representation in the industry, are so important.
Tech expertise continues to be in high demand in the UK, with high quality talent having more control over working remotely and flexibly on cutting-edge projects. The greater need for e-commerce and digital solutions in response to the pandemic has also offered a boost for the industry.
The sector continues to innovate, with a third of all emerging jobs in the UK classified as part of IT and computer software industries. As demand for expertise in AI and cyber security continues to grow, it is vital that tech professionals develop new skills and awareness in these areas to remain employable in the future.
Even with the uncertainty of the pandemic, this year of challenges has brought about positive change to IT hiring practices in the UK. Renewed calls for greater diversity and the reality of more flexible working means that the sector now has the chance to transform itself for the better. These changes will only serve to strengthen the position of the technology industry in the UK, and ensure they are better prepared for the demands of tomorrow.
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