Region’s tech and digital sector enjoys growth and more diverse recruitment

Greater Manchester’s tech and digital sector is blooming after three quarters of businesses enjoyed an increase in revenue in the past year.

Furthermore, 70% of firms reported an increase in staff numbers in the past 12 months.

The Annual Skills Audit, completed by trade body Manchester Digital, as part of its Digital Skills Festival, showed that of those advertised vacancies, 68% were for developers, and 62% of businesses said that developers were key to their growth over the next three years.

The most recruited roles were digital marketing (46%), project management (44%), UX research and design (32%), and testers/QA (32%). The audit found that the most difficult roles to fill were developer (55%), dev ops (41%), IT and infrastructure (17%) and testers/QA (14%).

The audit also established that the most required future skills were developer (62%), digital marketing (51%), project management (45%), sales and business development (43%) and dev ops (43%).

Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital, said: “The majority of the tech and digital companies in Greater Manchester have thrived over the past 12 months, which is positive news. During 2021, the initial shock of the pandemic was over, so employees were set up to work from home, minimising disruption due to COVID-19.

“This report confirms which job roles are now most in demand within the industry and which skills will be the most desirable in the future, so we need the industry to come together and create the right opportunities for young people. We need businesses and education providers to create even more opportunities and pathways into the industry, otherwise that skills gap will continue to increase and hamper growth.”

Progress on improving diversity and inclusion in the industry is evident after businesses reported that 21% of their workforce were from a BAME background compared with just 11% 12 months ago.

And although the industry still tends to be dominated by men in terms of technical roles, there are some indications that the gender gap has closed slightly – with 24% of technical roles filled with women, higher than results of the past few years.

Katie added: “We’re pleased to see these developments around diversity and inclusion within the tech industry.

“At Manchester Digital we have worked hard to improve diversity and close the gender gap over the years, with apprenticeships, our Digital Her scheme and many other professional development opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds – and we will continue to work at this.”

Alison Ross, chair of Manchester Digital and operations and culture director at Auto Trader, said: “It’s great to see such strong signs of growth within our region’s tech and digital industry. As we all know it’s been another tough year of uncertainty for businesses, but the tech industry has once again proved it is flexible and continually growing across our region.”

The Skills Audit was released at Conference Day on February 7, part of the week-long Digital Skills Festival. The launch event also saw keynote speeches from Craig Fenton, director of strategy and operations at Google UK&I, and Helen Robinson D&I and community engagement manager and Tony McArdle, learning partner, both from Auto Trader.