Technology innovation is not exclusive to London. Manchester’s digital tech revenues increased 4% last year to £3.2 billion. It currently hosts the greatest number of digital tech workers outside of London and employment within the city’s tech sector is at an all-time high.
Efforts to promote the region have come from a number of sources, including the well-publicised Northern Powerhouse. But the region now faces a new challenge – meeting the demand for a skilled workforce.
A time to invest
Several of the decade’s most iconic and commercially successful brands come from the North, including unicorn e-commerce retailer Boohoo. Manchester has produced five $1 billion tech companies, putting it on par with Amsterdam, while the city’s tech sector has experienced constant growth from 2006 to 2016.
Just last year, leading local tech firms such as eLucid, mHealth and Push Doctor raised a collective £200 million in funding. With the great funding opportunities currently found in the North, it is no wonder that the need for skilled workers is so high.
A supply shortage
The success of the region has left it struggling with the biggest skills shortage in more than a decade. 49% of tech leaders are reporting skills shortages, with the North West particularly short of big-data and analytics specialists. The North is also lacking experienced employees in technical architecture, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber security and robotics automation developers.
Filling the gap
The long-term solution is building a steady supply of tech literate school leavers and graduates to fill these roles. But this will take some time. Tech companies need to find quick solutions, nurturing and training the next generation of skilled professionals. This is where smaller, younger companies, with a clear purpose can offer better opportunities to skilled workers. With the skills learned in smaller companies, today’s wave of IT talent can move on to senior roles in large corporations or even help transform start-ups and young companies into future unicorns.
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