Hays UK blog


Prospecting for digital natives - The silicon rush

By Geoff Fawcett, Director, UK & I

I was speaking to the CIO of a business last week who had recently opened an office in Cambridge. He cited that top of his list of things to consider when opening a new office was access to top technical talent. He chose Cambridge due to the hot bed of digital expertise found from the university and tech start-ups in the area.

With 74% of employers planning to recruit technology specialists within the next 12 months (Hays Salary & Recruitment Trends 2018) and digital jobs growing twice as fast as other industries (Tech Nation Report 2017) attracting and retaining technical talent must become a strategic priority for any business.

Digital natives are the raw materials of future growth and business leaders need to know where to find them…

7 digital hot spots in the UK

Deciding where to locate a new office in the UK is a complex decision for any business. Although factors such as transport links and office space costs come into play, ensuring you have a future pipeline of digital expertise is critical to long term success. Get it wrong and you could end up tied into a costly mistake.

So where are these magnets for technical talent in the UK?

1. In their ‘Industrial Revolutions’ report McKinsey lists Bath as an internationally significant and fast-growing high-tech cluster. With an international well-known university for computer science, engineering and design, the city has above average levels of employment in creative, digital and ICT related industries. The area’s main strength includes digital publishing, software development, cyber security and telecommunications.

2. Bournemouth is aiming to be one of the top 20 global digital hubs by 2020, Bournemouth has promising graduate talent from two high performing, fast growing universities. Employers such as JP Morgan, Redweb and Bright Blue Day have taken advantage of the data, e-commerce and software skillsets available in the seaside town.

3. Cambridge is well-known for its world-leading university and existing highly skilled talent pipeline, however, businesses here are also investing in their future workforce meaning it’s still got more to come. The university’s ‘Cambridge Enterprise’ includes leadership training and sector specific support helping students and employees commercialise their ideas, making it a hotbed for the latest innovations and new tech companies. Large organisations have always tapped into Cambridge’s talent base and most recently this has focused on expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

4. Milton Keynes has significantly grown its business base by 34% from 2010 to 2016. Not only does this hot spot have some of the highest rates of productivity and number of start-ups but it is also supported by Biztech, the official business and technology forum which brings together ICT leaders. It’s no surprise Milton Keynes is fast becoming a HQ hotspot.

5. Norwich is a little known IT hotspot with exceptional access to talent. The town partners with two local universities, East Anglia’s School of Computing and Norwich University of the Arts allowing Norwich to thrive in computer games. Recognised for its agriculture, Norwich is part of an ambitious programme to become one of the UK’s top five tech clusters by 2020, creating a further 5,000 jobs.

6. Reading is home of multinational businesses, Reading has earned a reputation for technology, innovation, research and development. With proximity to the UK’s largest international airport, Reading’s excellent transport links are set to improve and bring even more talent into the town with Crossrail services offering direct links to London. Reading’s tech skillsets include cloud computing, software development and telecommunications.

7. Swansea is an upcoming technology town with a digital media and IT hub. The town’s TechHub offers technology start-ups a place to work, network and collaborate. Finance Wales Tech Seed Fund and the Accelerated Growth Programme ensure businesses have the support and funding they need to excel. Swansea connects businesses with investors, journalists and mentors with their active events calendar, making the town more than just an office space.

For further insight into the UK’s 20 major up and coming cities including salary data, skills availability and key employers, request a copy of our Skilled Cities report. This research report, produced with Deloitte, also explores some of the up and coming digital hotspots for technical talent.

If you are considering a new location and require a closer view on each city’s talent landscape, contact a talent specialist to gain insight on your workforce and talent acquisition planning:

About this author

With over 20 years experience within the industry, Geoff’s previous roles providing integrated recruitment solutions to the financial markets has lead him to partner with a range of corporate clients. His position is pivotal to ensure Hays deploys the right recruitment solutions for businesses within UK & Ireland; RPO, MSP, SOW. He manages the internal sales strategy in addition to leading the Hays Consultancy Service (SOW solutions).


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