Early in 2015 a survey from professional resourcing specialist Experis discovered that 28% of the latest tech jobs were advertised for cities outside London.
Prominent locations identified included Cambridge, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, a cohort of ‘tech hotspots’ which contributed 11,000 vacancies alone. They’re all strong university cities which are likely to attract graduates from the area, and all feature their own attractions, such as Media City in Salford.
In reality, very few digital companies of size have no links to London. For example, take a look at the RAR Top 100 agencies outside London, and you’ll find that while many of them are headquartered or founded elsewhere, they now have at least one office base in the Capital. MediaCom North, Jellyfish, Brass and the others all have offices there; purely from the potential vantage point of meeting clients and tapping into London expertise, it makes sense.
But there is no inherent need to be strapped to the capital for life support. Cloud technology, interconnectivity and an ancient artefact known as the telephone means that even companies that are not based in London still have access to the brightest minds in London without the need for a physical location.
Added to that are a number of flourishing ‘cluster’ cities that are pooling skills, taking in young talent from their area and helping other startups. For example, small businesses looking for help with their SEO and social media requirements are more likely to be persuaded by an earnest employee from their local area than a faceless, unfamiliar site in London.
These clusters are thriving in a number of exciting sectors. Take Brighton and Hove, for example. Almost 7,500 employees are engaged within the digital technology cluster in the beautiful coastal city, in tech laboratories or gaming. Or Bristol and Bath, with companies that can create anything from a world-class film (Aardman Animation) to a 3d printed artificial limb.
The cost of living in London is exorbitant, as it has been for years, so there is a compelling case for basing an IT company elsewhere in terms of the standard of living for staff. Even accounting for the fact that wages are on average £11,000 higher in London than the next highest average (Cambridge) one might consider that far cheaper house prices/rent, food, services and other benefits might tip the balance in favour of the Fenland city, especially when one throws in the strong sense of entrepreneurial spirit of networks such as Cambridge Angels and Cambridge Wireless. In fact, the ‘Silicon Fen’ and surrounding cities such as Peterborough (which also boasts its own digital technology opportunities at Comparethemarket.com, click here to find out more) are flourishing.
There’s also another consideration; not everyone likes London. It’s loud, it’s polluted, and it has a reputation for hurried, frantic rudeness from those who live there. Yes, it is loved by many – mainly those who live there already – but hated by others with equal vigour. Not everyone is willing to leave their friends and family behind to move to ‘The Big Smoke’.
Jobs with these companies are well publicised on LinkedIn, Indeed, Gorkana and many more, with a diverse and rich supply of exciting and progressive roles. However, if the location or role you’re seeking isn’t there, why not send in your CV directly to the company? Very few digital marketing companies, for example, don’t look at on-spec or inquisitive enquiries – make it clear the sort of role you are seeking, make yourself interesting, and who knows where you could end up? Outside London, that’s for sure.