UK tech jobs boom as bankers look elsewhere

Brexit and business trends mean that London is creating jobs in some sectors whilst losing jobs in others, with tech jobs, banking and financial services changing rapidly.

Tech staff hold a tablet
Europe is experiencing a “jobs merry-go-round” amid Brexit uncertainties, with EU27 hubs attracting more financial services jobs than London but with the UK tech sector outperforming its continental rivals, according to a new report.

UK is leading destination for tech professionals

An analysis of trends in global employment markets by recruitment company Robert Walters found that the UK continues to be the leading European nation for job candidates with IT skills and that the number of roles advertised in the British tech sector increased by 11 per cent between 2016-2018.But the analysis also showed that financial services recruitment increased last year in centres such as Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin at a stronger rate than in London, primarily as a result of the establishment or relocation of European hubs because of Brexit.Robert Walters, chief executive of the firm bearing his name, said, “We are seeing something of a jobs merry-go-round at present, with our European offices performing more strongly in terms of finance and banking jobs as uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit continues. But the UK is doing particularly well in the tech sector.”

Tech job creation up in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds

Last year, the UK gained more IT talent from abroad than it lost by a margin of 10 per cent, according to the analysis.London remained the the main attration to companies but growth in the regions was increasingly rapid. Job creation in Manchester's tech industry grew by 29 per cent between 2016-18, and by 22 per cent in Leeds and 20 per cent in Birmingham. In London, growth over the same period was only nine per cent, though from a much larger base.Ahsan Iqbal, IT director at Robert Walters, said that he expected growth in demand in the UK tech sector to continue, with London having the largest pool but with the regions catching up.“The UK tech sector is continuing to grow strongly and we expect that to continue. It is not one that is overly dependent on supply chains and is a genuinely global sector, so it appears to be largely unaffected by Brexit,” he said.

Future opportunities lie in AI, robotics, ecommerce and fintech

“Companies that are going to be successful in the future are those that are investing in tech – AI, robotics, ecommerce and fintech.“A lot of tech staff do not need to be in the office five days a week, and are operating from home or elsewhere at least some of the time.“It has never been easier to set up a base using serviced offices, so businesses are able to be agile and move activity to satellite offices in other parts of the country.”In the financial services and banking sector, the report suggested about 1,800 jobs have moved, or will move in the neat future, from London because of Brexit - much lower than the 5,000 to 13,000 which the City of London Corporation forecast last year would relocate to the EU by the time the UK left the bloc.

More financial services staff leaving than coming to London

London continues to have the highest level of banking and financial talent in Europe and second in the world after New York, Robert Walters said. However, in 2018 more banking and financial services candidates left London for jobs in other parts of the world than were hired, with an eight per cent deficit overall.The principal winners were Zurich, Frankfurt, Paris, Madrid and Dublin. While hirings by US and UK banks based in London increased by five per cent last year, the figure remained static for European banks and fell by three per cent for Asian banks, the analysis showed.James Murray, director of recruitment in the financial services division at Robert Walters, said, “We are seeing a decrease in candidate confidence in terms of people actually wanting to move in light of relative uncertainty. We have seen some hiring pauses and we have seen longer timescales in terms of new hires being signed off.“There is still a lot of recruitment activity for technology jobs in the banking and financial sector, particularly around information security, machine learning, natural language processing and data engineering. It is in risk management, finance and compliance that we are seeing some roles moving.“When it comes to Brexit, those we are talking to have a variety of different contingency plans and they will implement whichever one is necessary. The biggest worry for them is a no deal Brexit.”Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory