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Best place to work in tech: Why you should head north

Graham Hunter, VP of Skills, CompTIA

Five years after the launch of the Northern Powerhouse, Manchester has been named the top city to work in tech in the UK – evidence that, at last, money is being transferred away from Westminster and invested in #skills around the nation.

CompTIA’s UK Tech Town Index recently revealed that tech pros in Manchester are getting paid over £11,000 more per year than the UK-wide average.

Hence, the North, previously home of the smoky industry, is now a magnet for the kind of industry which powers global trade and technological innovation.

With opportunities abounding across the UK and a wide array of innovative employers offering strong potential for growth, it seems tech professionals are no longer confined to London to better their career.

While the geography of tech opportunities may be growing, it is important that the workforce is continually upskilled regardless of the sector.

1Breadth of location

Much like Silicon Valley in the US, London remains the epicentre of the UK’s tech scene, but the opportunities to find and grow a tech career are more geographically widespread than ever before. Of course, London remains one of the world’s most attractive IT cities and business destinations, but was outshone by Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, and Birmingham, all of which have seen significant tech job growth in the last few years.

The depth and breadth of opportunity is indicative of a thriving field, with few economic or geographical barriers for talented professionals hoping to pursue a career in tech. With opportunity stretching across the UK, location no longer needs to be a contributing factor to deciding on where to move one’s profession.

Endless opportunity

The advancement of technology has brought about a democratisation of capability. The newest advancements are no longer confined to traditional tech companies. Interestingly, the report found the opportunities for IT jobs in many of the top cities, including Manchester and Leeds, are not only within traditional technology companies, but rather with a wide spectrum of organisations offering a plethora of opportunities – top firms advertising tech roles in Leeds being the NHS, the University of Leeds, Cortland, and Leeds City Council.

Similarly, Manchester’s Media City has an abundance of new buildings and superfast connectivity which has been drawing business from across the region – even Microsoft now has an office in the city with over 150 staff. Not only can tech professionals now look nationwide for their careers, they are no longer pigeon-holed into specific sectors, as there are more jobs available in a far more diverse market.

Living up North

Unsurprisingly, the North surpassed the South on cost of living (COL) in the report, with Manchester COL being 25% lower than the national average. With over two-thirds of young people feeling it is unlikely that they will ever own a home without a deposit from their parents, the North is becoming increasingly popular for those seeking independence.

Average house prices in Leeds came out at £185,231, compared to London’s £466,824, meaning those wishing to buy would be able to get far more for their money, whether changing their career or just starting out.

A bright future

The future is bright for the once-smoky North of England. With a reported 1.3% job growth expected over the next year in Manchester and Leeds equally, tech professionals can move with confidence. The data showed that 26,277 tech roles were posted between August 2018 and July 2019 in Manchester alone, demonstrating the velocity with which the tech industry is moving North.

Of course, this doesn’t mean London is slipping. The sheer diversity and number of employers and jobs alone would have put London at the top of the list, but with a cost of living 103% higher than anywhere else in the UK, it prices many people out of developing a career there. The looming Brexit has posed questions about the future of the British capital for the tech sector, but a predicted 1.3% job growth over the next year alleviates doubts of the future. Clearly, a democratisation of the tech industry is underway. Techies across Britain can relax with the knowledge that their field is growing, no matter where in the nation they’re based.

Graham Hunter, Vice President of Skills Certification EMEA at CompTIA

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