A survey has found 85 per cent of employees at North West tech firms would be more likely to leave their current job if flexible working arrangements were no longer available.

That was one of the main conclusions of the Digital Skills Audit,  which also found that 78 per cent of tech and digital businesses have adopted hybrid working post-pandemic.

In last year’s audit, businesses said that 44 per cent of their employees worked in a hybrid manner; in 2023, this figure has now risen to 78 per cent.

The report found that this year, not a single tech businesses reported that their employees were entirely office based, and 20 per cent were working remotely full time.

Comparatively, in 2022, the audit found that 39 per cent of businesses said their employees were office based and only 5 per cent were full time remote working.

The annual Digital Skills Audit is collated by not-for-profit trade body Manchester Digital.

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The in-depth report covers working trends, as well as tech skills and recruitment, and diversity and inclusion. The data is collected from a cross-section of selected tech and digital businesses and individuals from across the North West.

Manchester Digital MD Katie Gallagher said: “Tech and digital businesses by their very nature are flexible and adaptable. Post-pandemic we have certainly seen a change in how tech businesses operate. The figures show that hybrid working is now firmly embedded within tech and digital businesses and shows no signs of changing back to mainly in-office working.

“The North West tech and digital sector is extremely resilient, with the data pointing to a broadly positive year, despite the current economic gloom. The diversity of our tech industry gives our region added resilience, with strengths across many sectors, including artificial intelligence; environmental and green technology; ecommerce and fintech.”

Alison Ross, Manchester Digital chair and operations and culture director at Auto Trader UK, said: “There are positive signs that the North West tech and digital sector will remain strong this year. Developer, DevOps and business Analyst skill sets are still hugely in demand and businesses predict that these skills are key to growth and productivity for the tech sector.

“Developing the early talent pathway for technical skills remains one of our key focuses within Manchester Digital, especially growing our Manchester Digital Academy apprenticeship programmes.

“It’s amazing to see the tech industry come together for the annual Digital Skills Festival to showcase their career pathways, apprenticeship programmes and bring together leaders to continue to work together.”

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Manchester Digital is an independent trade body for the tech and digital sector in the North West, and runs a number of programmes to support the region’s strong industry. These include their Level 4 apprenticeship programme, the Digital Her programme which supports and encourages women to consider a career in tech, as well as regular events and conferences for its members.

The Digital Skills Audit is used by both regional and central government to assess the current state of the North West tech and digital industry, looking particularly at what tech skills are most needed and most difficult to find, as well as data around diversity and inclusion.