Midlands Tech Industry: state of the market report


London often takes priority when it comes to attracting the latest digital talent, but with the cost of living rising, many young professionals are finding it difficult to afford working in the UK capital. While London may be the heart of Britain’s technology industry, it isn’t the only hub for thriving tech companies. 

In recent years, the Midlands has proven itself to be a heavyweight contender against the big smoke, and now proudly boasts over 13,500 tech businesses. However, because of the gravitational pull of London, the region’s brightest and best have an opportunity - as there is currently a recruitment gap of 2.8 unfilled vacancies for every 100 available jobs. This gap mainly arises from the demand for technical skills increasing faster than businesses or schools can develop them, so there’s definitely space for those who can tick these boxes to be successful.

The Midlands tech industry is booming, with start-up businesses joining more established tech firms like UNiDAYS in Nottingham. With the reduced cost of living offering a more comfortable lifestyle than in the capital, we explain why the Midlands should be the go-to location for tech wizards.


Job opportunities and common roles

The West Midlands has been booming in recent years, with opportunities sprouting up every minute for small business owners to make a name for themselves in the market. Figures show that for every 10,000 people in the region, 58 new businesses appeared, taking the West Midlands to 165,045 active small businesses overall.

In 2017, this number grew to 30,735 active enterprises for the West Midlands, while the East saw 22,565 new business births.

Because of this surge, a record number of jobs were created – 1.9 million to be exact– boosting the region’s growth rate to 3.1% - three times higher than England’s average rate. 

Among the mass of new jobs, some of the most common roles to be advertised were leadership and management positions. This is down to many businesses struggling to dedicate time for in-house training to develop existing employee’s leadership skills.

For the East Midlands, job creation has remained at an all-time high for the last few years, despite 69% of profitable businesses claiming the region’s talent pool to be ‘lacking’. With over 200 firms creating new jobs every year by an average of 28%, the region saw over 40,000 new careers in the last three years.

In comparison to the rest of the UK, the West Midlands has seen a high rate of vacancies, with 10.8% above the UK average. The East Midlands on the other hand, sits in the middle, with a rate of 2.3% below the average. In terms of industry, manufacturing, services and retail sectors are the ones with the highest demand for new talent.


Companies and tech adoption

Over the past couple of years, there have been 11,864 new tech companies established in the UK– the Midlands made up around a thousand of those, with 422 software development and programming business appearing in the East, and 563 in the West. 

Alongside the start-up businesses, tech giants have recently invested in the area including the 5G testbed set to arrive in the West Midlands.

Those interested in the gaming industry will also be happy to hear that 13% of the UK’s games start in the East and West Midlands with notable favourites like Tomb Raid, Banjo Kazooie and Sea of Theives originating from Derby and Leicester.


Salary insights

When it comes down to it, many of our career decisions revolve around salary – but just looking at the numbers won’t give you a complete picture. While London may offer a more attractive salary, the cost of living is much higher than the Midlands, with rent, dining out and even a pint of milk costing much more with a London label. Recent studies also showed that over 75% of employees working in the Midlands between 2017 and 2018 were earning more than the national living wage, allowing for a much more comfortable lifestyle.

To help put it into perspective, this is how the salaries and cost of living differ across the UK.

Average salaries 


Average cost of living



Nowhere in the world is perfect, and while the Midlands is currently booming, tech geniuses will find a few things to overcome when considering the move. Cities around the Midlands may have plenty to offer graduates from the region’s top-performing universities – but employers know they have to work hard if they are to sway them away from London or encourage those from outside the area to relocate.

Leaders and business owners also appear to be more meticulous about who they hire in recent years, seeking out individuals with strong technical skills and experience. 

This means business owners are less likely to choose ‘wildcards’ than they were a couple of years back – but this doesn’t mean young professionals do not stand a chance. There are plenty of small business owners as well as digital giants that are searching for a personality match, so there is plenty of hope. 

Overall, the region is proving itself to be a worthy contestant against the digital capital. With more enterprises opening in the Midlands, a bigger business environment is being created, which is helping to attract the latest talent. While big cities in the Midlands usually can’t stand up against the numbers game in terms of salary, they definitely can when you compare the cost of living, something London struggles against. 

If you are searching for a role in the tech industry, our advice is to look outside of London, and consider the cities that are growing their names. Many places like Nottingham and Birmingham have small, but thriving tech and will prove to be the perfect way up the career ladder for those technically talented.

For more information about the state of the market in the Midlands, contact us: info@esa-group.co.uk.