Research launched in February 2021 from the UK Tech Cluster Group, supported by the Institute of Coding (IoC), shows that the tech sector has continued to see growth in 2020. Despite the national upheaval caused by the pandemic, 42% of tech companies reported an increase in revenue over the past 12 months (with 32% staying the same) and almost half (46%) said they had increased their employee numbers.

10% of all advertised jobs are currently from the tech sector, the second highest number of vacancies following the healthcare sector. New Tech Nation data shows that, if growth continues at this rate, the tech sector will have 100,000 job openings per month by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

With more than 1.7 million people out of work in the UK, there is an opportunity for a national pivot to digital skills, which will also support the UK’s economic recovery. What’s more, there is an urgent need for flexible and accessible digital skills education, so that a diverse group of people can take advantage of the well-paying jobs that are available. The average tech salary in the UK (£53,318) is up 4% from 2019 figures, showing the personal economic benefit available in these roles.

The Institute of Coding, a government-supported initiative designed to respond to the UK’s digital skills gap, has already enrolled more than 800,000 people as it marks three years of upskilling learners and supporting their journey into the sector. Its online courses are specifically designed to be accessible to a large variety of people from a diverse range of backgrounds, and the courses have been created with input from major employers to help meet the demands of the national skills crisis.

In a recent survey of its learners, 25% said their work situation had been improved from taking a course – either by gaining a promotion, taking on more responsibilities or taking on a new more technical job. Respondents also reported themselves to be better prepared for future careers (63%), more confident working in tech (61%) and more confident to apply for tech roles (54%) 

Echoing these trends, Kimberley Hendry, an IoC learner who took a month-long bootcamp with IoC partner Sunderland University said, “As a mum who has retrained from working in education for many years, it was great to have a digital skills course I can add to my CV/LinkedIn profile. It has been something to talk about at interviews and was good exposure to local tech companies.” Kimberley is now employed as Cyber Security Engineer after studying a master’s degree in cyber security and completing an IoC-supported bootcamp.

Digital Minister Caroline Dinenage says, “The UK’s tech sector has shown tremendous resilience over the last year and continues to create jobs and opportunities for people up and down the country. 

“The government is supporting people to build their digital skills through initiatives such as the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund and The Skills Toolkit. This will help make sure everyone can develop the expertise they need to succeed in our growing digital economy.” 

Sheila Flavell CBE, COO of FDM Group and Chair of the IoC’s Industry Advisory Board, adds,  “The data that we are seeing shows growth in the tech sector both in terms of investment and the number of job vacancies, with more than 75,000 open job advertisements in November alone. The UK’s digital skills gap is now directly impacting people’s ability to access these positions in a key future-facing sector. The Institute of Coding has created a strong pipeline of talent through their innovative university and industry collaboration and we need to ensure that people can continue to access this digital skills education to improve their employability.” 

Julian David, CEO of techUK, the UK’s leading technology membership organisation, says, “There is a growing mismatch in the supply and demand of digital skills in the UK, which will be accentuated by the economic fallout of the pandemic. To continue to fill the tech and tech-enabled jobs that will prove key for our economic recovery, the UK needs a flexible range of education options that support different parts of the population with differing skill levels.

“Through the provision of modular digital skills courses developed with input from industry, the Institute of Coding is opening up more accessible pathways for people looking to train and retrain for digital roles.”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, President of techUK and IoC Co-Chair, adds, “The emerging skills gap significantly impacts the health of the UK tech sector and specifically those looking for work. This skills gap has materialised faster than expected and the effects are felt sharply by both the sector and by society. Those without tech skills are being left behind and the digital divide is widening. It is now even more important to pivot nationally towards digital. This starts with the accessible and flexible digital skills education that is provided by the Institute of Coding.”

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.