South Wales fast becoming UK ‘tech hub’, as digital jobs see regional boom
A recent report carried out by Tech City identified the significant growth of the UK tech sector, indicating that the UK may well be fast becoming Europe’s digital capital.
This was supported by the digital tech investment in the UK, 50% more than any other European country. Despite London historically dominating the industry, Cardiff and Swansea are rising competitors. From opportunities to lifestyle, there are many reasons ‘techies’ are beginning to choose South Wales over London, and the region’s achievements and opportunities are being noticed.
Earlier this year, the BBC announced that BBC Cymru Wales will be the first BBC facility in the UK to use groundbreaking Internet Protocol (IP) technology across both its production and broadcast operations, and popular digital publications like HR News are rising from the region.
Although traditionally Wales is known for the coal and steel industries, the tech sector is booming and growing rapidly. One factor influencing this growth is the vast number of graduates being churned out by the four Welsh Universities; Cardiff University, the University of South Wales, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Swansea University. This means that there are many graduates looking for jobs in IT and tech across both cities, with a high level of education in both theoretical and practical aspects of IT. This all-round knowledge makes the graduates sought after by employers. And, with 17,471 jobs available across Cardiff and Wales, and 103 start-up births, people looking for work in the sector will not be short of opportunities.
The increased demand for tech workspaces has driven the development of spaces such as Techhub Swansea and Tramshed. These are flexible workplaces encouraging collaborative working, networking opportunities and a platform for many start-up companies, allowing companies to thrive. This accommodating environment is not only a reason to work in Wales, but also to set up a company there. They are great starting places for companies looking to establish themselves before finding a permanent base.
Another factor boosting the Welsh tech hub is recent funding from the UK Government. In 2016, it was announced that Cardiff would become home to a new ‘Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult’; receiving £10 million of Government support, annually. This installation will allow Wales to keep up with the fast-paced industry as they meet the demand for ‘Superfast’ broadband. This, along with further investment into infrastructure and businesses from the region, will drive digital innovation across Wales. One investment predicted to have significant impact is the metro system. The improvement in transport will encourage commuting in and out of the cities, further boosting the tech sector. This could prove to be particularly beneficial for those working in roles requiring regular travel. Not only have the UK Government been funding recent developments, but the Welsh government also gave a loan of £400k to SMEs. This created new jobs and allowed small businesses to employ highly skilled staff, ultimately boosting the company’s performance.
Although the average salaries in Wales tend to be considerably lower than those of London, living costs are also significantly cheaper. This is one of the many benefits of residing in Wales. The various cultural sights such as Brecon Beacons and Cardiff Bay, exciting nightlife and sporting opportunities, are what make Wales one of the UK’s top destinations. The improvements to the metro system will allow residents to travel across the region with ease as well as in and out of city centres and to neighbouring cities such as Bristol and cities further afield such as London.
If not Wales, there are many alternative places to pursue a career in tech other than London. Although being the capital means London will always be the first choice for most businesses, there are other cities in which companies can thrive and there are talented people looking for work all over. With a robust infrastructure, quality tech courses and substantial investment, Wales have made great strides in recent years, enabling them to compete as a hub for the digital tech sector.