Credit: Paul Wilkinson/Flickr

Is the UK becoming a nation of techies?

A new report shows 1.4 million people are now employed by digital companies.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 16 Dec 2015

The digital sector’s increasingly visible presence in East London is well known, but the growth of technology companies in the UK is by no means confined to the capital. A report out today from the industry body Tech City UK reveals that digital companies currently employ 1.46m people, 7.5% of the country’s workforce, a figure that’s set to rise by 5.4% by 2020.

While inner London obviously had the highest volume of these workers (251,000), 74% of digital companies are headquartered outside of the capital, with Bristol & Bath, Manchester, Reading and Leeds playing host to particularly large clusters. Brighton has the highest concentration of digital jobs in the UK, at 3.3x higher than the national average.

The five largest digital clusters in the UK by volume of jobs:

1. Inner London – 251,590
2. Bristol & Bath – 61,653
3. Greater Manchester – 56,145
4. Reading – 54,527
5. Leeds – 44,951

Read more: Bristol's tech hub is booming

True to form, the Government was eager to jump on the bandwagon and tout what must be the most over-repeated political phrase of the past five years. ‘Backing the industries of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to support business, create more jobs and build a more resilient economy,’ said David Cameron.

The report also cast an interesting glimpse over the relative success of each cluster. London may be the biggest cluster but its performance pales in comparison to Manchester, where the average digital company has grown by 74% since 2010, compared with inner London’s 42%.

Read more: The seven best tech hubs outside London

The top five clusters by average company growth since 2010

1. Greater Manchester – 74%
2. Belfast – 57%
3. Sheffield – 47%
4. Inner London – 42%
5. South Wales – 28%

‘The UK is recognised on the world stage for its tech and digital strengths,’ said Baroness Joanna Shields, chair of Tech City UK. ‘Today’s report reveals the depth of the sector and the complex array of skills, specialisms and strengths that truly make us a Tech Nation.’ That might be something of an overstatement for now, but with digital job growth set to continue, it might not be long before a solid understanding of technology is as necessary a skill for school leavers as the 3 Rs.

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