UK tech vacancies fell sharply in 2020

The number of openings on LinkedIn declined by 57% despite strong demand for cloud computing skills

Fewer than 55,000 tech roles were being advertised on LinkedIn towards the end of last year, driven mostly by a reduction in demand for cyber security and data analytics staff.

This 57% decline during 2020 was sustained despite a rise in the demand for certain skills in parts of the North of England, as well as a huge demand for professionals with cloud computing skills, according to Accenture analysis.

Of the 55,000 open roles, 35,000 roles advertised sought professionals with cloud skills, reflecting a wider trend of UK businesses migrating workloads to the cloud during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Openings demanding AI skills also saw an uptick, surging 73% in six months to roughly 6,800 roles. This is in addition to a rise in demand for quantum computing and robotics skills.

Conversely, the overall decline has been driven by a reduced number of job listings for data analytics and cyber security skills, with a 53% and 54% fall in listings for each role respectively throughout 2020.

“While the pandemic has taken a toll on the UK’s overall technology jobs market, certain tech skills still remain in great demand,” said Accenture’s technology lead for the UK and Ireland, Shaheen Sayed. 

“Businesses have been accelerating their cloud migrations quicker than anyone could have imagined and digitizing business processes to make the most of technology.

“As more businesses seek to hire cloud, AI and robotics talent, experienced professionals are learning new skills to keep on top of the changing technology landscape and enhance their marketability.”

Demand for professionals with robotics skills jumped dramatically in Northern UK cities since last July, including a 450% surge in Newcastle, a 253% rise in Leeds and a 115% rise in Liverpool. 

This reflects the fact many of these cities are attempting to recruit more tech talent and bolster their credentials as viable tech hubs. This is also mirrored in the government’s decision to headquarter the UK’s National Cyber Force in the North of England, bringing thousands of jobs with it. 

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Oxford, meanwhile, has seen a 3,400% rise in demand for quantum computing skills, in light of the growing scale of research projects and the operations of companies like Oxford Quantum Circuits.

The general fall in demand for tech skills over the course of 2020 somewhat contradicts figures that suggest employer demand for IT degrees in applicants grew significantly last year.

Analysis of one million job adverts by showed that six of the ten university degrees that recruiters were looking for related specifically to computing and IT.

What's more, figures from the Learning & Work Institute similarly published data feeding into the narrative of a worsening skills crisis. Figures show the number of young people taking IT subjects at GCSE has fallen by 40% since 2015.

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