Press "Enter" to skip to content

Best for tech

CompTIA’s UK Tech Towns Index highlights tech industry opportunities across UK. Here, Nancy Hammervik, the IT trade association’s Executive Vice President of Industry Relations, outlines the attractions of the UK’s top three tech cities

London has always been the epicentre for tech jobs. However, in CompTIA’s inaugural UK Tech Towns Index the capital just scrapes into the Top 5, behind Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Birmingham.

This demonstrates the significant strengthening and deepening of tech opportunities that has occurred across the UK, with lucrative, specialised opportunities presenting themselves in a range of fields and across a greater geographic area than ever.

IT workers seeking employment as programmers or software developers, IT business analysts or systems designers are entering an exciting time as record demand for highly skilled workers in businesses of all sizes generates a projected 420,000 tech job vacancies and a 4% increase in the IT workforce, with 48,000 new jobs created in the five years from 2018 to 2023.

With more opportunities up and down the UK – and more to come from improvements in connectivity and the ongoing digital transformation of businesses – tech workers have more freedom to work where they choose. But where should that be?

CompTIA has compiled its first UK Tech Towns Index to help identify the best tech towns in the UK, assessing more than 200 on a range of criteria, including salaries, job opportunities and cost of living. Here is what it reveals about the UK’s three highest ranked tech towns.

1 Manchester
With a cost of living significantly lower than London’s, Manchester is not just a magnet for national IT and technology innovation; it is a global hub as well. It will cost a young professional an astonishing 25% less than the national average to cover living costs in the city, with tech and IT professionals paid £11,432 more per year than those in the rest of the country.

The proliferation of tech jobs in Manchester appears to be a recent trend, with 26,277 job postings recorded between August 2018 and July 2019. It is also on-going, with anticipated job growth of 1.3% over the next year.

Manchester offers plenty of opportunities in a range of companies, from traditional IT companies, such as TalkTalk Group and IBM, to public sector employers such as the National Health Service and the University of Manchester. This makes it an attractive location for IT workers who want to specialise in a particular field, as well as for those wanting to branch out and work for a different type of organisation.

2 Bristol
With an eclectic mix of start-ups and major corporations drawn to the city, Bristol’s high ranking clearly establishes the city as a lure for tech pros from London and the wider world. Boasting similar statistics to those of Manchester, Bristolian techies can expect £11,496 more income than the national annual average and look forward to 1.5% expected job growth over the next year.

The city’s top 10 employers include the NHS and the University of Bristol, as well as large corporations like Lloyds Banking Group, BT Group and General Electric Company that are locating their headquarters there. This is promising for people just embarking on a career in tech, as it shows it is possible to work for large, multinational companies outside London.

Moreover, while London is undoubtedly still a central hub for UK technology, the South West, including Bristol, is attracting a lot of investment as companies operating in disruptive technologies, such as AI and robotics, increasingly move away from the capital.

3 Leeds
Leeds came third on the list, with a remarkable 138% growth in new digital businesses between 2011 and 2016. Known for the hugely popular Leeds Digital Festival, which draws 20,000 attendees annually, the city boasts a 20% lower cost of living than the national average. Within the Leeds region alone there are 7,565 digital businesses employing 47,000 people, and this is set to rise.

Top tech employers in the region reflect the trend of major corporations drifting away from London and include a diverse range of organisations, including the NHS, ASDA, KPMG, HSBC Holdings and British Sky Broadcasting Group.

Predicted IT job growth of 1.3% over the next year, with an estimated 270 new positions being created, helps make Leeds one of the foremost tech towns in the UK. A total of 10,943 IT job postings were recorded between August 2018 and July 2019, primarily made up of .Net Developer, Software Development Engineer and Java Software Developer roles.

Tech Cities Top 10

The full top 10 list outlined in the report is as follows:

1. Manchester
2. Bristol
3. Leeds
4. Birmingham
5. London
6. Cambridge
7. Edinburgh
8. Bath
9. Basingstoke