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Digital Britain: the affect on recruitment across the country

The digital revolution has had a major impact on many industries, but especially on marketing and communications. And since the publication in 2009 of the government’s policy document “Digital Britain”, digital hubs have sprung up around the country, shifting more of the digital industries away from London and into the regions. According to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, digital businesses in Britain now number about 270,000, many more than previously believed. The effect on recruitment region by region has been as follows.



According to the cross-party think tank Demos, the digital and technical sectors combined contribute over £66 billion annually to the United Kingdom’s economy, £34 billion of which is from London’s businesses alone. In fact, London has over 48,000 jobs in the digital sector. Also, the Centre for Economics and Business Studies predicts that by 2016 London will have regained its position as the country’s fastest growing region and that by 2031 inner east London will see a 31% increase in employment.

The South

According to government figures unemployment in Brighton and Hove has dropped 4.5% to just under 6,000; this is mainly due to the developing digital economy. For its part, the Brighton and Hove City Council claims that, for the last 15 years, job growth in the city has outpaced the regional and national average and predicts that, with continuing investment in the areas creative hubs, the outlook for anyone seeking a job in the digital sector is positive. The Council estimates that an extra 20,000 jobs could be created in the region in the next 20 years.

As Peter Biggs, Operations Director at local web agency Bozboz, puts it, there has be a rapid movement towards specialisms spurred by the increasing growth of each digital field but generalists who “understand the whole landscape and generate holistic marketing strategies” also have a valuable role to play. 

The Midlands

In September 2012, the Birmingham City Council announced plans for six economic zones across the city to support its agenda to transform the city and strengthen its status on the international stage. The largest of the zones will be the City Centre Enterprise Zone that will house a new £35 million digital plaza. Industry insiders point out that this will add to Birmingham’s already thriving creative community, which is centred on the digital industry and housed in top quality accommodation like Fazeley Studios and the Custard Factory. With the popularity of mobile phones and other devices, skills in developing apps are highly desirable in the current job market.

The North West

The Manchester City Council has a 10-point plan to make the city a major player on the world digital map by 2020 and also plans to establish a holding company to develop and support digital sites throughout the city. Across the Pennines in Leeds the New Dock and Holbeck Urban Village regeneration follows a digital theme and The Tower Works (in the Holbeck Urban Village) is already 80% occupied. The digital industry currently employs about 13,600 people. However, according to Tony Foggett, Chair of Manchester Digital (the North West’s independent trade association for digital industries), there is a skill shortage industry-wide – experienced and senior staff and mobile and UX (user experience) specialists particularly being in demand.


Cardiff is one of 10 British cities to receive government funding to become “super-connected”. There will be ultrafast broadband for all businesses so essential for establishing the city’s digital credentials and attracting investment. Two developments in particular are having a major impact on the local digital jobs scene: the Wales government-backed incubation scheme at Cardiff Bay, Wales’ digital hub, that offer support services to digital media enterprises: and, the increasing popularity of companies that allow freelancers to collaborate with other freelancers.


With digital the fastest growing sector in Scotland, over the next five years the will be a need for some 45,000 new professionals to join the more than 100,000 people currently employed in the industry. According to Scottish Digital Media Advisory Group Chair Stuart Cosgrove, Scotland has a strong, emerging digital media sector with web-based services, games and digital agencies to the fore. Companies have recognised that there is also a need for people with commercial skills so they are recruiting project management and digital marketing professionals.

These developments are among the many aspects of industry that recruitment consultants must keep abreast of. Jobseekers looking for recruiting careers at Randstad, for example, will be expected to keep themselves up-to-date so that they can maintain the company’s excellent reputation in recruitment.

The author Richard Deeley, writes about jobs, careers, employment and the market for recruitment for both candidates and employers.

Photo credits: KROMKRATHOG – FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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