Confidence in UK’s tech sector remains strong

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Confidence in UK’s tech sector remains strong

The global economic upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has failed to dent confidence in the UK’s tech industry, research by major IT job board CWJobs has shown.

The CWJobs Confidence Index 2020 revealed that confidence in the state of the UK tech industry had dropped only slightly since last year’s survey, with eighty-one per cent of respondents indicating that they had confidence in the sector, a decrease of only eight per cent year on year despite the global health crisis.  The report said that the results highlighted “a continual and stable overall outlook”.

When looking towards the future, over three quarters (seventy-seven per cent) of respondents indicated that they had confidence in the state of the UK tech industry in twelve months’ time, and nearly nine in ten (eighty-five per cent) had confidence in the state of the sector in five years’ time.

The strength of skills within the industry was the top aspect driving current confidence in the tech sector for the second consecutive year, with confidence in skills rising slightly from thirty-five per cent in 2019 to thirty-seven per cent this year. Looking over the longer-term, whilst last year skills were considered the top aspect driving the future of the industry (at thirty-six per cent), this year technology being produced now represents the point of most confidence for the future (twenty-nine per cent), closely followed by skills (twenty-nine per cent) and the UK’s status as a leader in IT (twenty-seven per cent).

Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 dominated concerns about the industry, with over half of respondents (fifty-two per cent) indicating that they were concerned about the state of the post-coronavirus economy, replacing Brexit as the main concern from last year. Forty-four per cent believed that Covid-19 has been detrimental to their company.

The findings also illustrated the importance of the sector amid the Covid-19 outbreak: three quarters of those polled (seventy-five per cent) agreed that IT/tech has been vital in keeping companies afloat during the lockdown.  Forty-four per cent of IT professionals surveyed and forty-nine per cent of IT decision makers believed that their organisation will increase their tech budget in the future due to new insights learned from Covid-19.

Of those respondents who worked at a company where employees worked remotely, the top five most time-consuming tasks related to the Covid-19 outbreak were:

  1. Setting up people to work remotely (44%)
  2. Dealing with teething issues from people working remotely (41%)
  3. Educating people in how to work remotely effectively (38%)
  4. Implementing additional security measures as people work remotely (27%)
  5. Implementing new software to enable people to work remotely (24%)

When asked about the specialisms currently needed to succeed in the tech industry, the professionals and decision makers surveyed said the top skills remain general IT (thirty-nine per cent), cyber security (thirty-six per cent) and cloud (thirty-two per cent).  The importance of general IT skills rose by six per cent year on year suggesting an impact on confidence levels as organisations work from home. The report said that this “reflects what [has been] witnessed with job applications and job postings across the CWJobs website”.

In the long-term, AI topped the list of in-demand skills, with thirty-seven per cent of respondents indicating that skills in AI would become highly sought after.  Cyber security and cloud were again second and third in the ranking of skills that would be required in the future.

Dominic Harvey, director at CWJobs said: “It’s not a huge surprise to see that Covid-19 has had an impact on the tech industry, much like the rest of the business world.  However, it is good to see overall confidence in the sector remains high and that is justified by the vital role the industry has played in keeping UK businesses running and providing integral support to those operating on the front line.

“Despite this being a tough time at the moment, the UK’s tech scene is being recognised for the role it’s playing, and could be set to be in a good enough place to kick on once the pandemic subsides if IT budgets are increased.  Until then, it’s clear IT professionals are focused on providing the support they can and ensuring they have the right skills in place to keep things running now, before expanding in the future as everything gets back on track.”

Steve Ward, UK director at Universum, commented: “These are interesting times, indeed, both for the wider job market and the tech industry.  Understandably, the situation around Covid-19 is having a knock-on effect for confidence in the current tech job market.  However, as revealed through this research, the IT sector has clearly risen to the increased demand for efficient services and supporting products that enable the UK workforce to try and maintain operations on a remote basis.

“The industry recognises the incredible efforts its workers have contributed to the pandemic and there remains a demand for workers with  IT or tech skills to help deliver change.  What is clear in these times, is that tech talent is integral to shaping the future of work and therefore as employers, we need to understand how we value and demonstrate appreciation for these employees as their skills reach peak demand.”

Julian David, CEO of techUK, added: “The UK has always had a historically strong technology industry.  However, like any other sector it is affected by the economic uncertainty we are currently experiencing.

“The data published … showing that confidence remains high provides some reassurance but our approach to the next phase in our response to this crisis will be crucial.”

The research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of CWJobs, polling 502 UK IT decision makers and 1,002 UK IT professionals in April 2020.

24th June 2020.