The UK is the biggest hotspot for IT and communications workers in Europe. Our research has found that the UK leads Europe’s largest economies in terms of the proportion of its workforce employed in IT and communications industry. Technology workers make up 3.4% of the workforce in the UK, 2.7% in Germany, 2.6% in the Netherlands, 2.5% in France and 2.5% in Spain. The average across the EU as a whole is just 2%.
The UK has gained a clear lead as Europe’s leading technology hub, with several significant clusters both of start-ups and of larger, more established technology businesses.
Lisa Mangan, Relationship Manager at Procorre, says: "The success of Silicon Roundabout as a tech start-up incubator has been phenomenal. But the UK as a whole has a vibrant technology industry."
UK tech clusters have created a virtuous circle of networking, innovation, growth and new job creation that has significantly boosted the demand for workers in the sector.
There are plenty of opportunities beyond the M25, especially since more and more regions in the UK have worked hard to attract IT companies to their area.
Many established tech companies have also chosen areas outside London for their European HQs:
- The M4 corridor is home to blue chip corporates like Microsoft;
- Silicon Gorge in Bristol, Gloucester and Swindon is the location for Hewlett-Packard’s exploratory research group, HP Labs
- Silicon Fen in Cambridge which is a centre for software and biotechnology companies
- Silicon Glenn in Scotland houses many large IT companies such as IBM and Rockstar North, creators of the Grand Theft Auto series.
The Silicon Roundabout and its surrounding areas are now magnets for tech innovators, housing a range of successful start-ups such as: Halo, Moshi Monsters, Tweetdeck, Soundcloud, YPlan, Headspace, FarFetch, SwiftKey and Decoded.
The Government has invested heavily in supporting the growth of tech companies in the UK. As well as providing targeted incentives for start-ups, it has ploughed millions into updating infrastructure and providing other benefits to entice world leading companies such as Amazon, Twitter and Google to set up major offices in the UK, which have provided a surge of opportunities for tech and communication specialists.
Procorre notes the highest proportion of IT workers in all of Europe were in both Denmark and Sweden, where 3.8% of the workforce were IT and communication specialists, thanks to the countries’ substantial telecoms industry (see table below). Sweden is also the home of notable tech companies Spotify and Skype.
However, the UK cannot afford to become complacent as many other European cities are also placing a heavy focus on attracting IT and technology companies. The most high profile rival is Berlin, which hopes to capitalise on its low costs to attract start-ups, and is now home to SoundCloud, and games developer Wooga. Barcelona’s tech sector is also growing rapidly, due to its small business funding initiatives such as ‘Barcelona Activa’ which offers financial support to SMEs.
Growth in the UK tech industry has helped attract specialists from Europe and elsewhere, as well as cultivating new domestic talent.
Whilst the UK is currently in the lead, IT contractors can work anywhere, meaning jobs could easily move to new countries in the future.
Top 10 European countries ranked by highest percentage of IT and communications workers in their workforce
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