UK tech boom continues to fuel hiring in IT & Internet

by in Recruitment Trends

As jobs begin to decrease in other sectors, hiring continues to be strong in IT & Internet, thanks to an ongoing boom. Wave‘s Emily Buckley investigates the reasons for the boom, digs into the data, and looks at how the tech revolution is touching industries across the board.

Over the past nine months, the news outlets and social media have been full of headlines proclaiming mass layoffs in a large number of Big Tech companies. It’s been a tough few months for those employed by Big Tech companies as layoffs and hiring freezes – often with very little warning – have left thousands out of work. However, these headlines don’t represent the wider tech industry. Data taken from the Wave Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 shows that IT & Internet was the most active industry in terms of both jobs and applications consistently throughout 2022 and data from Wave’s monthly recruitment trends reports confirms that has continued into 2023.

Jobs and application activity domination

In an increasingly digital world, in a year in which AI was a huge talking point, and at a time when businesses across the globe are investing in departments whose sole role is to implement digitalisation processes, IT & Internet boomed. According to WaveTrackR data, in 2022 the industry posted the highest percentage of jobs (21.15%) and received the highest percentage of applications (20.80%) of any sector. In fact, its jobs were double those of the industry with the next highest numbers, Education, and were close to double the figures of the industry with the second highest numbers of applications, Manufacturing.

A rapidly growing industry

IT & Internet was growing at pace pre-pandemic but it boomed during COVID lockdowns. As the world was forced to retreat home, everything moved online and digital demand exploded, accelerating the pre-pandemic trend for tech growth. IT & Internet was central to us all carrying on, both professionally and personally, in the midst of a raft of restrictions. WaveTrackR data points to a 28% growth in jobs from 2021 to 2022 alone. Jobs didn’t fall below the 2021 monthly average in any month bar December.

As of the end of 2022, the UK’s tech sector is number one in Europe and number three in the world, behind only the US and China, according to new figures in a report by Tech Nation and Dealroom. The digital sector alone employs 2.98 million people, with a further 1.87 million people employed in tech roles right across the economy. The industry reached the $1 trillion in value milestone in 2022, making it only the third country ever to hit this valuation after the US and China. Much of this is driven by growing demand across businesses for digital transformation, as well as a phenomenal rise in tech for personal use. With tech innovation and adoption accelerating, the industry’s domination of the jobs market is likely to continue for years.

Rapidly growing internet usage

Openreach, which runs much of the UK’s broadband network, revealed that UK internet use more than doubled in 2020, leading to hugely stretched networks. Ensuring capacity for the extra usage has been a constant battle since 2020 and upgrading broadband networks has been an ongoing challenge. Openreach announced more than 5,000 new engineering roles to support this and a further 4,000 in 2022, a reflection of the huge numbers of new jobs created in response to demand in the sector. A continuation of hybrid working and the growth in streaming and downloads across a variety of platforms has resulted in average peak internet usage in the UK being higher now than it was during the height of the pandemic, according to network data from connectivity provider TalkTalk. Forecasts by the telecommunications company suggest that peak usage could rise by another 20% by the end of 2023.

Why applications may be rising

Jobs in tech are generally considered to be pretty safe – and if you do get made redundant, there are plenty of jobs in the market. With the huge advances in tech and the widespread adoption of digital technologies by industries across the board, this is unlikely to change. Thanks to COVID causing mass redundancies, followed by soaring inflation, a war, and prices rising in every area, a safe and steady job is more attractive than ever. LinkedIn’s Talent Trends in the UK October 2022 report revealed that job security became one of the top priorities for candidates looking for new jobs in the latter half of 2022.

Flexibility is another bonus – the vast majority of IT & Internet roles can be carried out remotely so there is the option for flexible working, opening up these jobs to a wider demographic. Data from Wave’s Recruitment Trends Report for 2023 showed that a huge 80% of all jobs advertised as flexible in 2022 were in the IT & Internet industry. A good salary is also a bonus for candidates, especially during a downturn. Financial-focused job board CW Jobs revealed that jobs in the industry pay substantially more than the average UK salary, with an average annual income of £62,500.

Is the industry’s skills shortage easing?

Jobs in IT & Internet have been relatively high for some time but rapid developments in technology and a lack of skilled workers had led to years of skills shortages in the sector. Applications soared in 2020, though, and have been high ever since, reaching as high as 166% above the 2021 monthly average in October and November 2022. With a future that is likely only to see growth, IT & Internet is an attractive industry for those willing to pivot and retrain and for younger demographics assessing their career options.

Upskilling and reskilling in tech was one of the key elements to the government’s ‘building back better’ post-pandemic pledge. Nearly 3,000 edtech startups have raised a total of £1.7 billion in funding over the past five years, enabling people of all ages and backgrounds to gain the skills they need to succeed in tech roles, from tech apprenticeships to coding, development and cyber security. According to Adzuna, an increasing number of UK companies are hiring for entry-level tech roles, from 6,596 in November 2021 to over 15,000 in 2022. This new generation of tech talent is sorely needed and has, in part, led to an increase in both jobs and applications. The skills shortage in the industry has certainly not disappeared but an increase in industry education, training programmes, and apprenticeships is helping get more people into tech.

IT & Internet is on a seemingly never-ending growth journey and its dominance continues to be felt in 2023, as it posted more jobs and received more applications than any other industry as the year began. Forecasts from Microsoft Data Science utilising LinkedIn data  estimate the UK has the capacity to create a further three million new technology jobs by 2025. The UK’s digital economy is booming, which is why tech was identified as one of the UK’s five growth sectors by the Chancellor in the autumn of 2022. It feels very much like UK tech is only at the beginning of its growth journey.

This article was originally posted on on the 1st of March 2023