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Michael Farrier
Michael Farrier,
PARTNER
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The UK Tech Sector Strides Forward in 2020 – A View From The Thames Valley
28 January 2021

In a year like none other, the UK tech sector has continued to grow apace, with significant job creation and investment deals reported.

Job vacancies alone grew 50% since mid-Summer. Since then, vacancies have continued to climb monthly in excess of 2.5%, with over 75,000 jobs advertised in November. 

It is estimated that approximately 10% of all current UK job vacancies are in the tech sector and this exceeds the 9% benchmark of the ONS for the UK workforce as a whole.

These headline figures tell a fantastic story for the country in a time of the worst pandemic in a 100 years and the turbulence to business and the UK economy caused by BREXIT uncertainties and hesitation. 

The pandemic has seen businesses, mine included, in all sectors, tested for their resilience, creativity and ability to re-invent themselves and their routes to market, in particular, given the lockdowns in the year and the instruction for employees to work remotely. The digital economy has developed enormously in the last year largely as a direct result of these pressures and it is thought that around 37% of its employees are employed in non-digital roles, including legal, marketing, HR and governance and compliance.

The digital tech boom of last year has seen salaries in some areas, particularly IT security roles, soar as well as significant job creation across the whole of the country, reported. London is first and accounts for nearly 20% of all tech vacancies, the South-East second with some 15,000 opportunities, with the North West with over 7,000. Manchester in particular, continues to lead the charge as the largest growing tech centre in Europe.

More generally, the digital economy employs nearly 3 million people, seeing a rise of over 10% in the last two years alone.  

UK tech unicorns – private companies with a valuation of $1billion or more – continued to grow in number with seven new ones added last year alone, with the total now at 80. Potential unicorns – private businesses valued at between $250m to $800m - now number in excess of 130, twice as many as Germany and France, the leading European countries with the next largest pipeline of future unicorns. Focus has been shifting in the UK away from start-ups to scale-ups and this all points to how our tech sector here in the UK continues to mature at a frantic pace, compared to our European neighbours.

There is no doubt therefore that at a time when many sectors have struggled, with businesses committed to surviving as their main objective, the UK tech sector promises to light the way and lead the country out of the economic darkness of the last year. 

Looking back ourselves, our law firm is unrecognisable now from the one on 23 March 2020 – we have shifted to become a virtual business overnight given the demands of lockdown and our digital transformation has been remarkable, but in no way yet complete. Our digitisation continues apace and our investment in technology has seen the sharpest focus in over 30 years. Our journey has altered course – unquestionably for the better too – and we have reported greater productivity across all practice areas to varying degrees, with lower cost centres too and, we are hiring. In the last nine months, our employment team alone has had an increase in recruitment of 50%. 

Reasons to be excited, therefore? Most definitely!

Please feel free to contact Michael Farrier with any questions or further information on employment law or HR services generally.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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