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Tech Cities gain ground in battle with London for IT talent

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The battle for IT hires in key tech disciplines1 outside the Capital was intense in Q3 as several of UK’s Tech Cities2 narrowed the gap against London’s dominance. These findings come courtesy of the latest Tech Cities Job Watch, a quarterly report monitoring the UK’s IT hiring trends by professional resourcing specialist, Experis.

The report presents an analysis of over 52,000 IT jobs advertised across the UK between July and September 2015. It shows that the number of jobs advertised in London over the quarter dropped 8 percent to 35,610, in line with seasonal summer trends. However, some cities, such as Manchester, Leeds and Bristol posted more roles during this summer period. Glasgow was a standout city in this report, advertising for nearly twice as many permanent roles in IT as in the past quarter. This was driven largely by the Financial Services Sector continuing to invest heavily in digital transformation projects in the city.

Geoff Smith, Managing Director, Experis Europe comments: “Since the start of the year, 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 now being offered outside the UK’s tech capital. This has been the dominant trend through 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 notable shifts in the types of jobs offered as well. While the quarter saw an overall decline in the number of permanent roles advertised across the 10 tech cities, which can be attributed to a regular summer slowdown, the number of contract roles rose by 6 percent to 5,849. The average contractor day rates also increased by 4 percent to £410 per day, while the average permanent salary fell by 1 percent.

Smith continues: “Contract roles are being used to coax flexible, short term workers in at attractive rates. 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 have also risen outside of the Capital. While London jobs still offer the highest average permanent salary (£52,649, a fall to 1 percent below Q2), average salaries outside of London rose in Cambridge by 7 percent (£44,821), Manchester by 5 percent (£38,474) and Leeds by 2 percent (£38,900). Big Data jobs continue 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).

Jobs in Cloud have grown substantially in both the number of roles advertised and average salary. Since Q1 2015, Cloud roles have grown the fastest, increasing by 20 percent to 8,380. As a further illustration of demand, Cloud roles now command the second highest average salary (£53,430) and day rates (£453), beating IT Security for the first time and putting it second only to Big Data jobs. “Emerging technologies always result in rarer skills and increased demand” continues Smith. “Cloud is rapidly becoming a vital component across business of all sizes, accounting for the high demand.  Smith concludes: “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 (the Northern Powerhouse), 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.”

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