A Report On A Report — How is the UK’s tech landscape looking for 2017 and beyond? #TechNation
Much speculation was made over the landscape for tech businesses within the UK during 2016. The same questions kept cropping up, “How will Brexit impact the tech sector?”, “What steps are the government taking to help nurture our digital businesses?”, “How do we solve the gender equality gap?”.
TechCityUK publish an annual #TechNation report, providing an in depth view into the UK’s digital sector, alongside shedding some light on the questions mentioned above. We joined them for the launch event of their report in the very apt Royal Institution. A building that has been at the forefront of innovation for over 200 years.
So what are the findings? 1000+ data points, 62 City case studies and 200+ community & data partners later…
- Whilst in 2016 there was an overall decline in investment in the private sector across Europe, investment in the UK actually increased to £6.8bn — 2x higher than any other European country. A weaker pound as a result of Brexit has made the UK a more attractive setting for funding rounds.
- We now have 1.64m tech jobs in the UK. 85k more than 2014–15 and unemployment is down to 4.6%.
- Cities such as Liverpool — where Launch22 is based — have seen an increase in digital jobs by 245% since 2015. A mixture of change in mindset along with strategic investments by local councils have tremendously helped this growth.
Overall, the landscape is looking positive and many future prospects were touched on by the panel for the event. With the likes of Eileen Burbidge (Partner, Passion Capital) and Stephen Kelly (CEO, Sage) voicing their opinions on the UK as a Tech Nation and London as an International Hub for everything digital.
However, the #TechNation 2017 report has highlighted some clear issues that we must work on in order for the UK digital sector to keep growing.
- Being involved with Launch22 has highlighted just how dedicated an entrepreneur can be, female or male, working on a project they are passionate about. Yet we still see a diversity gap in digital jobs of 3–1 male to female. It is thought that this disparity stems from the stigma behind computing and coding at school. Although this is known, it is not acted upon by our institutions nearly enough. We’re effectively loosing 2/3rds of potentially worldclass talent. However there are great initiatives combating this, from large groups such as Girls Who Code to regular meetups like HealthtechWomen UK.
- The second is the “Brain Drain” (the migration of highly trained or qualified people) from the North of England to London. Over the last 10 years the North lost 310,000 graduates, the same amount as there are digital jobs in London. And while the TechNation report does show growth across the rest of the UK, there is a risk that other cities will be unable to keep up with London (London attracted £2.2billion private investment in 2016 with the next closest city being Edinburgh at a modest £159million, comparatively), especially when resources are going into training young talent that heads south as soon as they are qualified. There is a risk of falling behind in an sector that has the potential to be the main future of the jobs market. Initiatives such as TechNorth and Ignite Accelerator are spearheading this digital growth outside of London
On reflection, there is much to celebrate in digital and tech over the last year. More digital businesses are being created than ever before, we are a nation of networkers (22,000 events on Meetup alone) and the rest of the world sees our strength. They are investing in the UK more than any other country in Europe. However, there are burning issues like the gender diversity gap and “Brain Drain”. Issues that we must tackle as a Nation in order to stay ahead of the competition hot on our heels…