The result of the Brexit vote last June brought with it an air of uncertainty for businesses of all types, size and industry. Some business leaders have suggested the UK’s tech and digital sectors risk being forgotten in favour of more traditional industries but with the likes of Facebook and Google committing to London, does the UK’s digital economy have the strength to be a success post Brexit?
We know that London, along with many other ‘digital hubs’ around the UK, has become a hotbed for digital talent and companies contributing a significant amount to the digital economy - around £97bn per year and growing at twice the rate of the wider economy. Theresa May also claimed the number of jobs within digital and tech sectors has grown at over twice the rate of non-digital jobs.
This growth in jobs is certainly something we have experienced over the past 18 months with our customers at Sphere.
If I look at the hiring activity we are seeing across our customer base it’s great to see the confidence they have in the digital economy, echoing that of Facebook and Google. As such, many of the businesses we work with are going from strength-to-strength and are growing in number at pace.
In the 6 months leading up to the vote on June 23rd, 2016, we took on average, 47 job briefs per week from our customers. In the six months that followed, the average number of briefs per month grew to 49, increasing further still to 54 briefs per week throughout the first quarter of 2017.
This is great to see and interestingly, we are seeing this hiring growth across all the sectors we cover at Sphere, not just across the traditional high-growth areas such as Ad-Tech and Mar-Tech. We are still finding many European candidates who want to come to the UK and as they continue to grow in stature our International team is seeing real success in matching these candidates with our customers’ jobs.
As well as an increased number of roles, our consultants are taking on several more varied roles as our customers seek to expand into new markets as well as deepen their reach into more established ones.
To me, all this activity indicates the strength of our talent and highlights the confidence many we work with have that the UK’s digital economy can continue to compete globally.
However, we are still a way off truly knowing the full impact of Brexit and issues surrounding talent still remain.
A talent shortage is a big concern for many of our customers, and with Article 50 now triggered, fears over the freedom of movement and access to talent remain critical throughout the negotiation process.
Alongside helping our customers add to their headcount we are also helping them retain and develop their employees in a number of ways. Now more than ever there is a need to upskill and reskill this talent to avoid a widening skills gap.
In this Millennial age, we have a wealth of digital talent both in industry and coming out of Universities which can lead to skills gaps within businesses. We are advising are customers to have confidence in their employees helping them increase their capabilities and training in digital skills and technologies should form an increasing part of any company’s budget.
What will happen over the next few months remains to be seen, however, what we have found at Sphere is that confidence from businesses in terms of growth plans remains high, the UK has a rich and diverse talent pool and digital businesses can form the foundations for Brexit success.
If you’d like some advice on hiring top-tier talent or retaining and developing your staff then please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you.
Ed Steer, CEO, Sphere Digital Recruitment