UK tech industry ‘will hold strong’

Written by Peter Walker

The UK’s tech industry will maintain resilience, despite the COVID-19 outbreak, according to new analysis from global recruiter Robert Walters.

In the first quarter this year, permanent job vacancies in the tech sector increased by 32.56 per cent and contract tech roles increased by 48.27 per cent when compared with the same period last year, according to JobFeed data.

Tech job vacancies are also up compared to the same period last year, especially in Manchester (44.33 per cent), Birmingham (27.29 per cent), Milton Keynes (26.95 per cent) and in London (16.60 per cent).

Of the new professional job roles created at the beginning of this week in the capital London, a quarter of these were tech-related, according to Vacancy Soft data.

Following the government’s postponement to the new off-payroll rules (IR35), Robert Walters experienced a spike in interest from firms seeking contractors – in particular for business-focussed or critical roles within tech.

Ahsan Iqbal, director of technology at Robert Walters, said that at the moment, the tech sector has experienced a spike in demand, “and so - unlike other industries such as aerospace - no immediate impact has been felt regarding hiring freezes”.

He continued that as digital infrastructure becomes the focal point for many internal business discussions, Robert Walters does not anticipate a cancellation or slowdown in tech projects.

“In fact, there will be a revised focus on firms’ digital offering, with particular attention on improving e-comms channels through better customer relationship management systems, upgraded website capabilities, improved security and enhanced accessibility and use of data.”

Of the new tech-related contract roles created in the last four weeks in the UK, 18 per cent of these were for programmers, while 13 per cent were for consultants, specialists and support staff.

Iqbal commented: “As pressure mounts in the coming weeks and months on IT departments to help support remote working capabilities as well as business continuity plans, firms will look to strengthen their team with contract staff who have prior experience of in-house systems and a provide a strong sense of being able to ‘hit the ground running’.”

According to the Robert Walters Contractor Pay Guide, competition will increase for traditional areas including developers, data, security and cloud professionals – pushing contract rates up as much as 25 to 30 per cent.

Iqbal stated that the UK was already pioneering work within HealthTech and EdTech, and now more than ever this will be put to the test. “Other areas of opportunity will be in InsurTech, supply chain and AgriTech – as after health these are some of the industries experiencing the highest level of demand.”