An aerial view of the river Lagan in Belfast city centre.
Belfast city centre. Image: © Maciej/

Belfast ranks strongly against UK cities for tech jobs and workforce

8 Sep 2020

New data from Tech Nation outlines how Belfast is becoming an increasingly attractive spot for skilled workers and tech businesses.

New data analysed by Tech Nation revealed that 26pc of Belfast’s workforce is now employed in the digital technology economy.

According to the data released on Tuesday (8 Septemeber), Belfast is the second-best value place in the UK for tech workers to live. The data was gathered for the UK government’s digital economy council ahead of London Tech Week

The median salary within the tech sector of the Northern Irish city is £40,000, while the median salary across all roles is £30,000.

Tech Nation’s latest report revealed that the number of vacancies advertised in the digital tech sector across the UK climbed by 36pc between 7 June and 9 August, as tech companies found their footing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jobs in Belfast

In August, Belfast-based Neueda announced plans to hire an additional 230 people as part of a £20m investment, which will help it to increase sales in the US, mainland Europe and eventually into Asian Markets.

Meanwhile, US-headquartered tech company Peak6 also plans to create 160 new jobs in Belfast.

Belfast is one of nine cities in the UK, outside of London, to have more than one-fifth of the workforce employed in the technology sector. The other cities are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol, Reading, Cardiff and Cambridge.

Of these cities, Cambridge and Belfast have the highest penetration of digital tech jobs at nearly 26pc. According to jobs website Adzuna, Belfast had the highest proportion of digital tech vacancies in 2019.

Outside of London, the only cities with higher median salaries for tech jobs than Belfast are Edinburgh and Reading. In London, the median digital tech salary in 2019 was £55,000 which is up 3pc on the previous year’s figure of £53,296.

Tech Nation’s report found that when living costs are taken into account, cities such as Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield pose as more attractive alternatives to London for people working in roles related to data science and infrastructure engineering.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, commented: “Northern Ireland is one of the best places in the country to start and build a tech business.” He added that the large proportion of employees working in tech provides a great resource for employers.

“Belfast is well on the way to becoming one of the world’s leading tech cities of the future and I am confident that digital tech will help fuel the region’s economic recovery following the pandemic.”

The most in-demand skills

Prior to the pandemic, the digital technology sector in the UK was advertising more than 150,000 jobs a week in the first three months of the year, according to data from Adzuna.

Vacancies fell in line with all other sectors of the economy when the UK’s social distancing measures began, but have since recovered to stand at 90,297 by the week commencing 9 August.

In the UK, the technology sector is posting the second-highest number of vacancies, after healthcare. Vacancies for cloud skills in the UK have grown by 22pc since 2018, while AI and cybersecurity grew by 44pc and 22pc respectively in 2019, year-on-year.

Tech Nation’s report showed that there’s an increased demand for certain skillsets, including full-stack developers, right across the UK. In 2019, the most advertised role was for software developers.

The report also noted a 25pc increase in demand for product quality inspectors and a 15pc increase in demand for front-end developers in Belfast.

Increased remote working will mean that roles become less location specific – offering the opportunity for people living in regions across the UK to have access to high-paid roles.

The report also noted that there’s “considerable evidence” suggesting an increase in demand for non-STEM roles in tech companies, illustrating that the sector is maturing and needs professionals with broad business skills and experience.

Kelly Earley
By Kelly Earley

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic. She joined in June 2019 and covered start-ups, Big Tech and developments in consumer technology.

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