Coronavirus: Adaptable tech sector will stay strong, with vacancies leaping in Q1

The UK’s tech industry will stay strong despite the Covid-19 outbreak, according to new analysis from global recruiter Robert Walters.

The fastest-growing industry in the UK saw permanent job vacancies grow 33% in Q1. Picture: contributed.
The fastest-growing industry in the UK saw permanent job vacancies grow 33% in Q1. Picture: contributed.

It found that in the first quarter of this year, permanent job vacancies in the sector – which it said is the fastest-growing in the UK – increased by about a third and contract tech roles jumped by nearly half from the same period last year.

Ahsan Iqbal, director of technology at Robert Walters, said: “At the moment, the tech ­sector has experienced a spike in demand and so – unlike other industries such as aerospace – no immediate impact has been felt regarding hiring freezes.”

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The recruiter found that tech job vacancies showed a year-on-year jump of 44 per cent in Manchester, and 17 per cent in London, for example. Of the new professional job roles created at the beginning of this week in London, a ­quarter were tech-related.

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Iqbal added: “As digital ­infrastructure becomes the focal point for many internal business discussions, we do not anticipate a cancellation or slowdown in tech projects. In fact, there will be a revised focus on firms’ digital ­offering.”

Regarding the new tech-related contract roles created in the last four weeks in the UK, 18 per cent were for programmers, and competition could see contract rates grow by up to 30 per cent.

Looking ahead

As for the outlook of the tech sector, Iqbal said: “The UK was already ­pioneering work within healthtech and edtech, and now more than ever this will be put to the test.

“Retailers who didn’t invest in e-commerce will be going through a difficult period right now, and will have to assess whether they have the resources to be able to enhance this for future, competitive purposes. Of the tech roles advertised in the last four weeks, 13 per cent of these were in trade or retail.

“Other areas of opportunity will be in insurtech, supply chain and agritech – as after health these are some of the industries experiencing the highest level of demand.” Iqbal also said the tech sector is able to respond amid ­current upheaval.

He added: “The tech community is largely global – with different skillsets being used in different locations – and so professionals in the sector are quite used to using remote communication solutions in order to stay connected with their team or counterparts in other countries.”

He added that flexi hours, video interviews and remote onboarding are not new to tech professionals, “so there will be little adjustment ­during this period”.