UK Tech job openings grow for the first time since pandemic began

Michelle Hawkins, managing director for Accenture, Scotland

Accenture’s Tech Talent Tracker shows job listings are well behind pre-pandemic levels, but demand for emerging technologies is fueling jobs recovery

DEMAND for tech professionals in the U.K. increased by 10% in six months – the first time the tech job market has grown since the pandemic – according to the latest U.K. Tech Talent Tracker from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The tracker, which analysed LinkedIn’s Professional Network data, recorded over 93,000 tech jobs openings in July 2021, up from 85,000 in January. However, tech job listings are still well below pre-pandemic levels and are 76% lower than 2019. 

Despite the significant decline, demand for skills in emerging technology is driving growth in the tech job market. Open roles in quantum computing saw triple-digit growth (at 157%) and blockchain soared by 72%. As organisations focus on governance and respond to data privacy regulations, jobs in digital ethics and responsibility also increased by 27%.

“While the UK economy continues to bear the brunt of the pandemic, these figures are a ray of hope as technology helps to fuel the recovery,” said Shaheen Sayed, Accenture’s Technology Lead in the UK & Ireland. “Investment in new software and machinery, particularly with the UK’s roadmap in electric vehicle production, as well as more hybrid working will likely kickstart demand for more technology skills. As businesses fast track their transformations and industries become permanently digitised, we expect to see a bidding war for the best tech talent to come next.”

Scotland sees the fastest rebound

There are signs that Scotland’s tech sector is growing at a faster pace with job listings increasing by 25% in six months, compared to a 10% rise in the rest of the U.K. Edinburgh saw the biggest growth of all U.K. cities, with open roles growing by more than half (51%), followed by Bristol (48%) and then Glasgow (at 33%).

The jobs recovery in England is more uneven. Open tech roles increased in Manchester (18%), and Leeds (15%), but declining demand in key hubs such as Liverpool (-20%) and Newcastle (-5%) counteracted growth in the North of England.

Despite a sharp increase in remote working, London continues its dominance as the U.K.’s main tech jobs hub. The capital accounts for nearly half of all technology jobs advertised in the U.K, with up to 44,000 open roles.

Sayed added: “London continues to have the lion’s share of tech jobs and is likely to for some time. The North-South tech divide persists but burgeoning hubs in Scotland and the North West of England are offering more opportunities for tech professionals at a time when more people are moving jobs and making lifestyle changes. We expect the dust to settle on flexible working practices – as well as more regional expansion in companies – which will help to broaden the spread of tech talent.”

Significant skills boost

There are signs technology professionals have significantly expanded their skillsets in response to the pandemic, with technology skills increasing by nearly half (47%) on LinkedIn since July 2019.

The most advertised technology skills are now in data analytics and cloud computing – at a time when 5G networks are expanding and businesses accelerate their cloud transformations. Cloud computing skills are most in-demand and account for 40% of all tech jobs advertised.

“The surge in tech professionals with vital skills will help drive the economic recovery,” said Accenture’s Technology Infrastructure & Engineering Lead in the U.K., Emma Kendrew. “The pandemic has quickly ushered in a digital economy, and it will require a new generation of technologists to move forward. Organisations will likely hire or upskill software engineers as they invest in core technology to reinvent how they operate and what experiences they provide completely built around their new platforms.”

Tech Talent Tracker Methodology

Developed by Accenture Research, the Accenture UK Tech Talent Tracker queried emerging technology keywords on the LinkedIn Professional Network in the last week of July 2021 and last week of July 2019. The tracker assesses skills of both existing roles and open positions, querying for nine technologies: data analytics, artificial intelligence, extended reality, blockchain, quantum computing, cyber security, robotics, cloud computing, and ethical/responsible technology. The sources accessed for the analysis primarily included LinkedIn Professional Network pages; news sources; government reports; and relevant investment bank reports. The survey covered all of the UK, with a focus on the following cities: London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Brighton, Cambridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Oxford and Newcastle.

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