Tech sector now employs 2.1m people across UK – overtaking hospitality and construction

UK tech companies now employ 2.1m people – overtaking the hospitality and construction sectors – according to new figures released today.

Edinburgh is ranked eighth in the UK for the number tech jobs and commands the highest median salary outside London, research for the Government’s Digital Economy Council has found.

According to the data – produced by Tech Nation – Scotland’s capital employs 48,000 people on an average salary of £42,500, which is 15% higher than non-digital roles in the city. There are now officially three $1bn-valued ‘unicorns’ based in the city – the fintech firm FNZ, travel giant Skyscanner and energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie, which is owned by US-based Verisk Analytics, a data analytics and risk assessment company.

Edinburgh is also the best place in the UK to work for analysts, whose salaries average £33,929 (cost of living adjusted) and Glasgow is rated best for Project Managers and Python developers at £47,500 and £43,893 respectively.

Analysis shows that in five UK cities – Oxford, Cambridge, Reading, Belfast and Newcastle – more than 10% of the population are now employed in the digital tech sector. In Cambridge, half the working population are employed in the digital tech sector, while in Reading it is a third.

In Edinburgh, that figure was somewhat lower at 4% and Glasgow did not feature in a list of the top-ranked tech cities; the fastest-growing tech hubs are adding jobs at a rapid rate – with almost 1.7m positions advertised during 2018 across the 12 biggest tech centres. Outside London, the cities with the most tech openings were Manchester, where digital commerce and marketing is strong, with 164,000 roles and Leeds, with 88,000 jobs.

Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon David Mundell MP said: “Scotland’s tech sector is thriving, with numerous innovative companies that are based here making major contributions in artificial intelligence, fintech and gaming.

“I am pleased to see Edinburgh is one of only two places in the UK that can command higher salaries than the London average, with the median salary for tech roles more than £40,000. The UK Government continues to champion Scotland’s booming tech sector, supporting its growth and ensuring it continues to offer high quality jobs.”

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We are one of the best places in the world to start and grow a tech business and this new data shows the success is bringing good jobs and helping spread prosperity across the country.

“We are determined to seize the future opportunities for technology to improve people’s lives by investing heavily to boost the nation’s digital skills.

“Alongside the fantastic talent coming from our world-leading universities, we have revamped the computer science curriculum, announced new funding to support thousands of AI and data science

training courses, are rolling out a new National Retraining Scheme, and are investing £84 million in a new centre for computing education led by tech experts.”

Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, said: “With over 2.1 million people working in digital technology in 2018, the tech economy is bigger than sectors like hospitality and construction. However, increasingly, those lines are getting blurred, with technology jobs crossing over into the mainstream sectors like financial services and health, helping them evolve and stay competitive and productive. As countries transition to network based economies in a globalised future, the need for tech jobs and skills is reaching a generational high point, which is why this report is so timely and important in highlighting how the demand for tech skills continues to evolve and grow over time across the UK.”