The data was released as part of a new report for the two by jobs search engine Adzuna and Dealroom — which also found that venture capital (VC) investment in UK technology companies hit a new record of $15 billion in 2020; more than Germany and France combined.
The UK produced seven new tech unicorns in 2020 meanwhile, taking its total to 80. Online events software provider Hopin, electric vehicle startup Arrival, recipe box company Gousto, utility Octopus Energy, e-commerce sites Gymshark and Cazoo, and cloud communications platform Infobip all hit the $1b+ valuation mark for the first time.
Justin Kelly, Director of Business Development, Siemens PLC said: “The UK tech industry has grown beyond compare in the last decade and, as these numbers show, is having a positive impact across all regions.
He added: “From fintech to green energy and manufacturing, these brilliant companies are an example of the UK’s rich history of innovation and will set the tone for the industry for years to come.”
In demand: software developers
According to the latest ONS data, the digital tech economy employs 2.98 million people. In terms of current vacancies, software developer currently the most in-demand role in the UK, with over 31,000 vacancies. (There were 106,000 IT-related vacancies in March, falling to a low point of 50,367 in July. However, vacancy rates began increasing again in July and reached 75,353 in November, the report notes.)
“More specialised programming roles, such as NET developers and Java developers, are also sought after across the regions leading to higher salaries. For instance, network security specialists who oversee networks and prevent security threats, have seen salaries increase 69% on average this year to £85,894”, the report notes: a striking increase likely to have come on the back for strong demand caused by the abrupt shift to remote work triggered by the pandemic’s outbreak early this year.
The numbers make tech a rare bright spot in a struggling jobs market: The ONS said redundancies rose to 370,000 in Q3; as the Guardian notes, the most since records began in 1992, as retail and hospitality jobs dried up in the wake of lockdown-driven closures around the nation.
Looking ahead to 2021, the prospects for the UK’s startups and scaleups looks strong, since UK -based VC firms have record levels of dry power (committed, but unallocated capital) to hand, having raised a record $8.2 billion in 2020, up from $5.5 billion in 2019.
“The last financial crisis catalysed an entrepreneurship wave in the UK – with the launch of TransferWise, Farfetch and Zoopla – and the ongoing commitment to VC investments throughout lockdown is set to catalyse a similar response following coronavirus” the report suggests.
Gerard Grech, Chief Executive, Tech Nation said: “The UK’s tech businesses have faced one of the biggest upheavals in a century to pull in $15 billionn – a greater investment than that achieved in the whole of Europe combined. At Tech Nation we have been delighted to continue supporting these incredible businesses and are on track to support over 1000 tech scale-ups by March 2022, delivering over $1 billion Gross Value Add to the UK economy.”