UK technology sector is key engine for job creation and growth

By Tudor Aw

The UK technology sector has outperformed the rest of the UK private sector in terms of employment growth over the last ten years, a new joint report by KPMG and Markit reveals. The research also shows that UK tech companies are more confident about the business outlook than firms in other industry sectors, with growth expectations at tech companies well above UK private sector average, underlining the impact the sector has on the country’s economic performance and the important role tech companies play in the burgeoning recovery.

Tech Monitor UK features for the first time the Tech Sector Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®), a new method for tracking job creation and economic growth at UK technology companies.* According to the index, job hiring trends over the last ten years have consistently outpaced those of other sectors. UK tech sector job and output growth have been especially strong since the end of the recession, with larger tech companies reporting steeper employment growth than smaller tech firms.  


Source: KPMG/Markit

Our new report Tech Monitor UK, the first of an ongoing series, reveals a number of key findings: importantly, it shows that the UK tech sector has generated solid rates of job creation over the last four years and that it has consistently outpaced other UK private sectors in creating jobs since the global financial crisis in 2008/09. In terms of business outlook and confidence, we can take heart that tech companies in the UK are bullish about the next 12 months. Optimism is at one of the highest levels since data was first recorded in late 2009 and also continues the trend that tech companies are consistently more upbeat regarding hiring intentions than other UK sectors.

UK tech employment clusters

The report also provides for the first time an in-depth geographical snapshot of the UK tech sector employment patterns.** The research reveals that the ten local authorities with the highest proportion of tech workers are all in the South East of England and are all located close to either the M4, M3 or M25 motorways, providing easy access to Heathrow and Gatwick Airport, as well as relatively short train journeys to London.

According to the research, Wokingham, home to large multinational firms in the Thames Valley Business Park and Suttons Business Park, is the number ONE technology employment cluster in the UK, followed by Rushmoor and Hart. London has the second-highest proportion of tech workers nationally, with the footprint particularly large in the boroughs of Richmond upon Thames and Hounslow. 


Source: KPMG/Markit , calculations based on ONS data

Perhaps not surprisingly, our report identifies the South East as the key region for technology clusters with the top 10 tech clusters being close to the M4, M3 or M25 motorways – all providing easy access to Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. The findings of our report clearly highlight the link between investing in transport infrastructure and attracting businesses and therefore driving growth in the UK economy.


Tech Monitor UK: Understanding tech clusters and tracking the UK tech sector’s outlook for employment and growth, KPMG/Markit, October 2013.

*The new tech sector PMI data has been derived by creating a sub-category of approximately 150 UK tech companies from Markit’s regular survey panels of manufacturers and service providers. The full definition of tech companies is outlined in the methodology section of the report. All figures are seasonally adjusted and results presented as 3-month moving averages. Index numbers vary between 0 and 100, with levels of 50 signalling no-change from the previous month. Readings above 50 signal an increase since the previous month, whilst postings below 50 indicate a decrease. The greater the divergence from 50, the greater the rate of change signalled by the reading.

**The tech sector employment patterns in this report are based on estimates of the areas within Great Britain that have the largest local footprint of tech jobs. The Office for National Statistics publishes location quotients by local authority in Great Britain, and the report adapts this raw data to provide the figures and analysis contained in this release.

Location quotients are ratios derived by comparing the concentration of industry jobs in local authorities with the national share of employment in the same industry. Tech sector location ratios have been estimated for well over 350 local authorities in Great Britain, and the full methodology is outlined in the report.

Local authorities across Great Britain are ranked according to their relative tech workforce numbers, with the results illustrated in the maps and tables of the report. Any location quotient above 1 signals a greater than average concentration of tech jobs in a local area. Additional data tables / charts are in the appendix of the report. This work contains statistical data from ONS which is Crown Copyright. The use of the ONS statistical data in this work does not imply the endorsement of the ONS in relation to the interpretation or analysis of the statistical data.

About the author

Tudor Aw is Technology Sector Head for KPMG Europe LLP. He has over 20 years experience of working with clients in the technology and telecom industry both on audits and advisory engagements where his main focus has been on helping clients manage risk, evaluate strategic opportunities and achieve operational improvements which flow into the bottom line. His advisory projects have included large scale finance function transformations; re-engineering of Executive reports and KPIs; post merger business integration; strategic cost reduction; due diligence; organization design; investment appraisals and system implementations.

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, is a subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with over 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2012. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. We operate in 156 countries and have 152,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. KPMG International provides no client services.

About Markit

Markit is a leading, global financial information services company with over 3,000 employees. The company provides independent data, valuations and trade processing across all asset classes in order to enhance transparency, reduce risk and improve operational efficiency. Its client base includes the most significant institutional participants in the financial marketplace.  

About PMIs

Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) surveys are now available for 32 countries and also for key regions including the Eurozone. They are the most closely-watched business surveys in the world, favoured by central banks, financial markets and business decision makers for their ability to provide up-to-date, accurate and often unique monthly indicators of economic trends.

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