Growing the digital industry

Digital industry

Thusday, Oct 26th 2017

The industry today

The digital industry is growing every day and currently, the UK is the hub for Europe’s digital tech skills with 1.64 million jobs across the country. The UK received almost 2.5x more digital tech investment than any other European country between 2012 and 2016.

But the UK is leaving the EU, will that affect the growth of the industry? Personally, I don’t think so, as the industry is constantly evolving and Theresa May stated that the Government will help to ensure that the UK will remain to be the top competitive place to start and grow a tech business.

Looking at both the Manchester Digital Skills Audit Report and Tech Nation 2017 Report, I have gained a great insight into the digital industry in 2017 and I will discuss some of my findings.

So why is the UK the digital capital of Europe?

Well, since 2014 UK businesses have grown 83% each year and the digital tech investment in 2016 was at a staggering £6.8 billion, which is almost 3x the £2.4 billion secured by France, the second best European country. Also, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the UK potentially has the best source of talent as 8 out of Europe’s top 20 universities are based here, with London having 4 of them.

Pie chart presenting the top 20 Universities in Europe
Times Higher Education World University Rankings - Tech Nation 2017 Report

Supply of talent

Therefore, the UK is the best source for talent, right? Unfortunately, that is not entirely true as the number one challenge faced by many tech businesses is finding new talent. Over 50% of businesses stated that there is a shortage of highly skilled employees. This is not due to the businesses having high expectations but some of the issues with finding employees are relocation and immigration. Businesses state that in order to grow, they need to recruit workers from the UK and abroad.

Personally, I understand the geographical issues for many individuals as commuting every day can have its challenges. Currently, I live in Bolton and every morning on my commute to Manchester, I see heaps of people trying to use public transport and a lot of the time, the services are inadequate to transport us all.

Commuters boarding Metrolink Tram at Market Street

So, with the location being one of the key factors to recruitment, you may think that all workers are essentially recruited locally? Well, that is not the case, Manchester recruits outside of the north west with 25% of staff coming from London and 10% coming from other European counties.


So many businesses are finding it difficult to find new talent, so how are they approaching recruitment? Well, for many businesses, internal and peer recommendation are the most effective way of recruiting staff where the trend remains from the previous year. Headhunting and LinkedIn advertising are the next best options with the least popular methods being adverting both nationally and regionally, searching a database of CVs, networking, social media and finally recruitment agencies.

A lot of businesses are faced with many challenges preventing their potential growth, 69% of businesses stated that there is a limited amount of highly skilled workers, as a result of this, 1/5 of businesses had to turn down work due to then being unable to find the right talent.

Challenging the issue

So how do we fix this? Well, it does look like we are challenging the issue as almost 1/5 of businesses have brought in talent from outside the EU which is an improvement from the previous year. Also, 86% of businesses are recruiting graduates with 55% of these being locals, which is also an improvement from the previous year.

Apprenticeships are another good way for sourcing talent with 80% of apprentices saying it met their expectations. The government has recently introduced an apprentice levy where they promise to have 3 million new apprentices by 2020. 80% of the businesses believe that the levy will be good for business where the remaining 20% believe that it would result in companies taking on fewer graduates.

After you recruit an individual you’re done, right? Surprisingly not yet, 34% of companies say they have a problem with retaining the employee with many companies offering many benefits to staff to retain them. The main two benefits offered to employees are career development and flexible hours.

So, what are your opinions?

Overall, I believe that the digital industry is constantly evolving each year just like all of us. We just need to keep up with continual updates to technology. More and more individuals are joining the digital field and the opportunities ahead of them are only getting better.


Manchester Digital. (2017) Manchester Digital Skills Audit Report 2017. Unknown place of publication: Manchester Digital. [Online] [Accessed on 21st October 2017] URL: Manchester Digital Skills Audit Report

Tech City UK. (2017) Tech Nation 2017 Report. Unknown place of publication: Tech City UK. [Online] [Accessed on 21st October 2017] URL: Tech Nation 2017 Report

View all blogs