Digital and tech talent trends - MIQ Debrief with Rob Sugden

Pubished 21st March 2023

In this video, Managing Director Rob Sugden shares his expertise on the current talent market in Manchester's digital and tech industries.

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Video Transcription

Hi, I'm Rob. I'm Managing Director for ECOM. We're a digital recruitment business in Manchester and part of the wider InterQuest Group.

On a monthly basis, we release our MIQ reports, which is an in-depth look at the talent market across the UK. It includes loads of really interesting data and insights and commentary around what's going on out there. So, we've just released the March version of our MIQ and so wanted to share today some key insights and findings from that.

You know at times of economic downturn there's always going to be challenging and unfortunate situations that people find themselves in. However, if you look into the data and actually speak to people in the market, yes, while there are pockets of redundancies, of freezing of growth, there's still a lot of real positivity in the market at the moment.

So, if we look specifically at the Manchester and Northwest Digital and tech markets, we are still seeing a higher level of confidence in growth as it's grown eight points through January to where we are now. Just under 50% confidence. This is actually the highest anywhere in the UK.

Over recent years we've really seen Manchester grow into being a major technology and digital hub, not just in the UK but for the whole of Europe. There's over 1600 startups and scale ups in our city and the digital and tech sector employs over 60,000 individuals.

Last year alone, Manchester Tech businesses raised over £530 million worth of external investment. This is 50% growth on the year before announced that many other major European cities. We've seen a number of major international businesses really commit to Manchester as a centre of excellence with some pretty big numbers being talked about in terms of growth.

Personally, I don't see this year being hugely different. I think what we will see is some of the Big Manchester digital names slowing down, but these are companies that have hired fairly aggressively over the last two years have hired for growth.

They're a good head count now with growth slowing down, they will slow down their hiring plans. But there are lots of new businesses moving to the city or exciting scale ups that startups that are going to continue to grow and feed the tech sector in the city.

From previous experience of working through economic downturns, one of the trends I would expect to see this year is a bit more of an emphasis on contract and temporary hires and companies will still have projects to deliver on. Will still need to invest in updating systems and technology but may have a freeze across general staffing.

Some may look to a kind of temporary resource to be able to fill this gap until they're in a position to hire perm staff. And looking at the data, there's still a lot of confidence in the candidate marketplace with 74% of people considering changing jobs in the next year and key motivators.

We're looking to move on, still remain salary and compensation as the biggest motivator, but alongside that flexible working flexibility around working continues to rank higher and higher every year.

Software engineering and development roles still continue to be the most difficult to fill, not just in Manchester but across the UK and digital and tech and closely followed by DevOps and platform roles where we're seeing real growth in demand for this.

There's no denying that 2023 will be more difficult than 2022. But as I said before, 2022 was a year of huge growth and a very positive market. This year companies will still grow, will still hire, and if you're looking to hire talent yourself, you will still be able to find that talent, but it may be more difficult to find the best people than it was in the previous year. If you are looking to hire the best talent, what's the advice that I could offer?

More people might say it's not all about money. Ultimately, you've got to have the right salary enough for the right package, otherwise, you're not even going to get a look in. So first and foremost, make sure that your compensation is right. Then on par with the market, make sure that you offer the right level of flexibility around working from home and flexible working hours. You don't need to offer fully remote. In fact, actually the companies, some of the companies we have the most success of, the ones that have a hybrid model.

But make sure that you can offer what your candidates are looking for. Have a clear narrative understanding of why people would want to work for you. What is it that's interesting and exciting about your opportunity? Is it what you're doing? Is it the technology that you're working on? Is it the story behind where you're going to an organisation? Understand what makes you unique, what makes you stand out from your competitors, and really build a story around that you can use to sell who you are and why people should work for you.