Business Technology

The battle for IT hires becomes intense, with UK tech cities narrowing the gap against London

4 min read

03 November 2015

Companies in cities across the UK have begun to vie for top tech talent in order to build capabilities to innovate and cater to demand, according to the latest “Tech Cities Job Watch” report by Experis.

The report presents an analysis of over 52,000 IT jobs advertised across the UK between July and September 2015. It suggested that the number of jobs advertised in London over the quarter dropped eight per cent to 35,610. However, some cities, such as Manchester, Leeds and Bristol posted more roles during the summer period.

Glasgow was a standout city, having advertised for nearly twice as many permanent roles in IT as in the past quarter.

Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis Europe, said: “Since the start of 2015, the proportion of roles advertised in tech cities outside of London has been on the rise. In this quarter nearly one in every three jobs we’ve analysed is being offered outside the UK’s capital. This has been the dominant trend throughout 2015: a country invigorated by positive economic sentiment to hi-tech skills. Efforts related to government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ initiative are set to further support this trend.”

There were shifts in the types of jobs offered as well, the report claimed. While the quarter saw an overall decline in the number of permanent roles advertised across the top ten tech cities – London, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Leeds – the number of contract roles rose by six per cent to 5,849. The average contractor day rates also increased by four per cent to £410 per day, while the average permanent salary fell by one per cent.

“Contract roles are being used to coax flexible, short term workers in at attractive rates,” Smith said. “With specialists and rare skills in high demand, more companies everywhere are opting for contract resource to fill pressing needs – as well as to cover seasonal holidays. Candidates also prefer contract roles when the market is buoyant, as fewer of them are seeking the safe harbour of a more secure permanent role.”

Salaries also rose outside of the capital. While London jobs still offer the highest average permanent salary (£52,649), average salaries outside of London rose in Cambridge by seven per cent (£44,821), Manchester by five per cent (£38,474) and Leeds by two per cent (£38,900).  

Furthermore, a general shortage of skilled IT professionals across the country resulted in competition across five key technology disciplines in particular: IT security, cloud, mobile, big data and web development.

As such, big data jobs continued to offer the highest pay, averaging at £62,809 for permanent roles, and a £539 day rate for contractors. Edinburgh and Birmingham offered London-beating average salaries for big data roles (£69,733 and £66,667 respectively). 

“Emerging technologies always result in rarer skills and increased demand,” explained Smith. “Cloud is rapidly becoming a vital component across business of all sizes, accounting for the high demand.

“In the past few years cities outside the capital have been in the spotlight, with new technology hubs springing up and the government announcing large scale development plans, and massive projects such as HS2 on the horizon. This report provides further evidence of this trend, and lays the groundwork for a strong tech hiring market in 2015 and an equally robust 2016.”