May 24, 2018Published by: Linnea Jonsson

Six insights about UK digital tech from this year’s Tech Nation Report

Tech Nation recently published their annual report on the digital tech landscape in the UK, looking at everything from international competitiveness, perceptions of the sector within the community, and data on jobs and skills. So what’s so special about UK tech? We jumped in and pulled out the most interesting points that Tech Nation highlighted.

London leads
London is in the top three global startup ecosystems, coming in after Silicon Valley and New York City. The report factors in performance, funding, market reach, talent, and startup experience. London’s highest score was in market reach, in which it finished second only to Silicon Valley.

International connections drive success
In London, 33% of tech company customers are from outside the UK. As with market reach, London also came second to Silicon Valley in terms of international connections, and it seems there’s a correlation between this and the capital’s tech success. The report shows a strong link between a tech ecosystem’s outbound global connectedness and its overall market reach, highlighting the importance of devoting resources to international opportunities. This trend is not exclusive to London either - data from Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast demonstrates that UK tech is global. Food for thought ahead of Brexit.

Tech thrives outside big cities
Although London has the highest digital tech turnover in the UK, the sector does not dominate when analysed in relation to the rest of the city’s economy. The capital is actually below the national average in terms of digital tech density - areas like Guildford, Aldershot, Slough and Heathrow have significantly higher digital tech concentration and higher levels of employment in tech. The report refers to these clusters as ‘emerging digital suburbs’. Good news if you want to work in tech but avoid the London Underground...

We’re thirsty for talent and cash
The top challenge identified by tech communities across the UK was access to talent, followed by access to funding. This is a clear sign that we need to continue developing the sector and making the UK an attractive place for tech talent around the world. Encouraging more young people to get into tech, through both national and local initiatives, is also key.

Diversity still gets poor marks
With 54% of workers born outside the UK, London has the fourth most international tech startup workforce in the world, after Singapore, Berlin and Chicago. But diversity is still an issue. 48% of tech workers thought gender diversity in their local tech environment was low and 40% stated that ethnic diversity was low. The numbers speak for themselves - just 19% of people in UK digital tech are female, compared to 49% in other jobs. Furthermore, only 15% are Black, Asian or other ethnic minorities (BAME), although this is still above the UK average of 10%. Tech entrepreneurs need to put more effort into recognising diverse talent and potential - an issue that some great initiatives, such as Girls in Tech and Colorintech, are already taking to task.

The sector is growing
According to the report, the digital tech sector increased by 13.2% between 2014 and 2017. Jobs that ask for digital tech skills also pay more on average - £42,578 per annum compared to £32,477 for non-digital jobs.

Overall, tech is good for the UK economy and good for those working in it - and the sector looks set to keep getting bigger and bigger. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London proves itself as a global tech hub. However, it’s not just the capital that’s making waves; smaller cities are showing that they can be players in their own right. That being said, like much of the tech industry, the UK digital tech community still has a way to go when it comes to diversity. And with Brexit looming, the UK needs to ensure its international relations don’t negatively impact its future in tech.

If you want to read the full report, which is chock-full of great data and interactive visuals, you can do so here.

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