Liverpool emerging as hotbed for pioneering AI talent

Liverpool is showing signs that it is home to a growing AI talent pool, according to Accenture’s latest UK Tech Talent Tracker.

While most technology professionals are based in the capital, the biggest increase in technology skills were recorded in Cardiff (29%), Glasgow (27%), Liverpool (26%), and Oxford (25%).

In particular, the AI talent pool in Liverpool swelled by 109%, followed by Cardiff (98%), in a sign that new hubs of technology talent are starting to emerge.

Across the UK, demand for AI skills has soared by nearly half (49%) in the past six months, with the pool of AI professionals also increasing by 75%, showing an uptick of growth in a subdued technology jobs market.

The tracker, which analyses LinkedIn’s Professional Network data, shows there has also been a complementary rise in demand for digital ethics and responsibility skills in the same period.

As businesses escalate caution on fast-moving technology, like AI, and start to comply with regulation from the newly approved EU AI Act, the tracker shows open roles in digital ethics and responsibility has increased by 45%, with the pool of these professionals also increasing by 12%.

Andrew Finlayson, North West lead for Accenture, said: “Liverpool’s technology sector has been on the ascendancy for some time, and these findings are a positive sign that we are seeing the impact of learning and upskilling in critical skills.

“With every business needing technology skills to take their organisation into a future realigned by AI, it’s vital to close the regional digital skills gap in the UK. Liverpool is well placed to be a leading light in AI excellence. In the city, and wider region, we must capture this hunger for AI, and nurture talent so the UK can compete on a global scale.”

As businesses continue to operate in challenging macroeconomic conditions, the overall number of open technology roles in the UK has not yet returned to levels of growth seen during the pandemic – with the tracker recording a peak in vacancies in July 2022. While demand rose for roles in extended reality (34%) in the past six months, growth remained flat for vacancies in cyber security (three per cent) and data analytics (two per cent).

Emma Kendrew, Accenture’s Technology lead in the UK & Ireland, said: “While British businesses remain cautious in a challenging macro-economic environment and are focused on their resilience, there are signs we are seeing a resurgence in demand for talent to make their AI ambitions a reality.

“An AI revolution can’t happen without people to build on a company’s digital foundations. It will take more than a nation of software engineers to get right – it means developing design, engineering, linguistics, and data science talent across the country, as well as improving the digital literacy for all British workers.”

Overall, technology skills in the UK have rebounded across major disciplines, including cloud engineering and quantum computing, with the technology talent pool increasing by 11% in the past six months. This boost was driven by a surge in AI skills (by 75%), followed by an increase in cloud engineering skills (25%), robotics (17%) and data analytics (12%).