Posted on February 13, 2018 by staff

Brexit uncertainty hits North West tech firms


Almost half of tech and digital companies in the North West have felt the effects from uncertainty around Brexit, according to Manchester Digital’s most recent digital skills audit.

Of those businesses, 56 per cent cited concerns around losing key staff members and how they will fill gaps if overseas workers’ rights are changed. A further 48 per cent stated that customers are delaying work or they have seen a slow-down in orders since the UK voted to leave the EU.

Results also showed that more than a quarter (27 per cent) have had to turn away work as a result of not being able to find the right talent.

When asked which skillsets are likely to grow in importance for their business, developer was once again the most in demand and also the most difficult role to fill, with almost half (49 per cent) of organisations stating that they struggle to recruit developers with the adequate level of training.

A brand-new entry for 2018 was the acquisition of talent in AI and machine learning, which was found to be a key concern for 12 per cent of the region’s digital and tech businesses.

“The results of our annual skills audit once again highlights an industry which is flourishing in the North West, but is being impacted by an inability to train and retain the best talent,” said Manchester Digital’s managing director Katie Gallagher.

“The skills gap continues to be one of the biggest inhibitors to growth in the tech and digital industry. Uncertainty around Brexit – whilst clearly an important issue – is one over which we have very little control. The onus therefore falls on the industry to take a proactive approach to solving our own talent problem.”

“These steps include radically improving how tech is taught in schools by creating industry standard modules that directly link to the needs of the sector. Creating flexible course provision so companies can upskill staff to meet demand for AI and data science skills etc.”

Gallagher added that the decline in apprenticeship starts is “disappointing but unsurprising given the poor implementation of the levy”.

Manchester Digital’s audit of over 250 digital and technology businesses was revealed today at the sixth annual Digital Skills Festival.