Digital Careers: Could Manchester Be The New London?

By Amy @BubbleJobs

What’s the first place that pops into your head when you mention digital jobs in the UK? Chances are, it’s London and for good reason. Boasting major names like Google, Facebook and Twitter, the country’s capital is undoubtedly the centre of the UK’s digital economy and, thanks to areas like Silicon Roundabout, it’s getting bigger and better by the day.

Hmm, so does that mean if you want a digital job you have to move down to the Big Smoke? Not necessarily. You see, there’s one other city that’s catching up and catching up fast. We are of course talking about Manchester.

The North West city of the reds and blues, Manchester might not strike you as the most digitally-savvy of cities but over the last decade it’s really transformed itself into a digital hub in its own right and it’s now got a lot going on. The future? Thanks to major investment from the likes of the BBC and a strong forecast, things are looking bright – and there’s a chance it could soon be giving good old London a run for its money in the digital stakes.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me explain. First up, it was the birth of the modern computer at the University of Manchester in 1948. Then it was Google. When the time came to open its first UK regional office in 2005/6, where did the search engine choose? Yep, that’s right – Manchester. Then came the BBC’s commitment to MediaCityUK and Salford Quays in 2006. Opened in 2011, the complex is now home to major names like the BBC and ITV, in addition to smaller, niche businesses from the creative industries and is famous all over the world.

manchester digitalToday, the city is easily the second largest digital hub after London, not just in the UK but across Europe, with 5% of employment categorised as digital or creative and 16% of the city’s economic output being attributed to the sector. Manchester is now home to major digital names like Accenture, Adidas, Siemens and The Co-Operative Group and The Sharp Project is home to more than 50 digital entrepreneurs specialising in digital content and digital media production.

Looking to the future, things only look set to get better as the city looks set to follow through its investment into the UK’s digital industry. Last year, a group of independent bodies said Manchester had the potential to become one of Europe’s  most important digital centres and Manchester City Council announced a 10 step plan to ensure the city is at the heart of the digital industry by 2020.

Earlier this year, they also announced they were setting up the Manchester Innovation Zone – a three way partnership with the Manchester Schools Alliance and The Education Forum. The Zone has been set up to “encourage the sharing and scaling up of ideas that will create new jobs” and has a key aim – to connect schools in the area to the digital economy.

In July, the council also announced plans to create a holding company to support the growth and development of strategical digital sites in Manchester. The holding company will bring together three existing council-owned digital sites (The Sharp Project, One Central Park and the former Fujitsu building in West Gorton), which between them will create 450,000 sq ft of office space dedicated to creative and digital businesses.

The forecast for digital growth within the city? Well, according to the council, more than 40,000 new digital jobs could be created in the Greater Manchester area by 2015 – a forecast which is backed up by a survey carried out by Manchester Digital last year which revealed 66% of digital businesses in the region are planning to expand within the next 12-24 months.

The skills that will be most in demand? Well, according to the Manchester Digital survey, web development, mobile development and project management were named as the top three areas that employers would be taking new staff on in – and from a personal perspective, we’ve definitely seen an increase in demand for new technology consultants from the likes of Accenture over the course of the last six months or so.

Of course, forecasts are just forecasts and there’s no certainty that these figures will be met – however, with a huge investment from the council and support from major bodies like Manchester Digital and the Manchester Digital Development Agency, there’s a pretty strong chance the digital industry within the region will only go from strength to strength moving forwards.

So there you go; more than a couple of reasons to look further north when the time comes to get yourself a new digital job. Want to see what’s available today? You’d better pay our digital jobs in Manchester page a visit then!

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