Birmingham answers tech workers’ quality-of-life call

A new study shows one in five London-based tech workers are actively considering relocating out of the capital, with Birmingham among the most popular destinations.

Selfridges Birmingham
The online poll, commissioned by Business Birmingham, found that 17% of the tech employees canvassed in November 2017 are either considering, or are in the process of, moving towns or cities.A further one in three say they would move if the right opportunity came along when asked about their attitudes to moving to work outside of than London. The survey of over 500 tech workers in the UK’s digital and software industry identified the factors most likely to drive London technology workers to relocate to regional cities as:
  • quality of life (64%)
  • lower living costs (51%)
  • affordability of housing (47%)
  • higher disposable income (45%).

Regional tech hubs in the UK

These insights come as Prime Minister Theresa May announced a £61 million package of support for the technology sector – including a new training programme and measures to boost the industry in cities outside London, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham, and doubling the number of visas for digital technology experts.Data from the Office for National Statistics finds Birmingham is the number one regional city destination for those looking to relocate outside of London. The number of tech and digital businesses based in the city has risen by 38% over just five years, says the investment agency. Birmingham is now home to over 3,000 tech and digital firms, the highest of any regional core city.Flourishing tech scenes combined with more affordable living costs and higher disposable incomes are also attracting skilled professionals in other regional tech hubs.

London-based workers remain loyal to the city

Further significant findings from the survey for regional recruiters and HR include London-based workers in the tech sector are the most loyal to their workplace location. Seven in ten say their city is most suited for tech companies 70% – more than any other group. Earlier this month, Facebook announced plans to expand its London office, creating 800 jobs in mainly engineering roles.Yet, 65% also report being London-based as a tech start-up is particularly problematic due to employees being unable to live in the capital. Londoners are left with just £65 of disposable income per month, while those living in Birmingham have an average of £1,092, according to research by the UK job site, CV-Library. 
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Birmingham emerges as a UK tech business leader 

Commenting on the tech talent attraction challenge and the benefits of regional tech hubs, Oxygen Finance, a software company, commented that it had found it easier to recruit and retain talent after relocating to Birmingham. A spokesperson said: “Oxygen Finance moved to Birmingham in 2016, with affordability and access to skilled, technical staff being key drivers behind this decision.“Since relocating, our business has grown from strength to strength, supported by the wide pool of tech talent on our doorstep. We’re one of many businesses that have made the move, and with the investment and transformation of Birmingham showing no signs of stopping, we’re confident that the city will continue to attract the highly skilled talent we need to support our growth and development.”

Budget geared to boosting UK's hi-tech future

With plans to potentially relocate broadcaster Channel 4 and its 800 staff to Birmingham, and Labour’s unveiling today of plans that would move departments of the Bank of England to Birmingham, the regional agenda is gaining momentum as the need for tech skills increases.In his budget, which followed Mrs May's announcement of the tech-sector funding, for Mr Hammond also offered investment of £500 million in a range of technological initiatives including AI and fibre broadband; and an action plan to unlock more than £20 billion of new investment in UK scale-up businesses, in support of the government's Industrial StrategyFor related news and features, visit our talent management section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entries open in January. 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 DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory