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North West tech and digital sectors ‘broadly positive’ for year ahead finds annual Manchester Digital audit

Manchester Digital MD Katie Gallagher

More than half (53 per cent) of tech and digital businesses in the North West report that they are not expecting any negative impact on staffing or turnover this year, despite the challenging economic climate.

The Digital Skills Audit, released today by Manchester Digital, also found that 78 per cent of tech and digital businesses in the North West have expanded in terms of revenue growth in the past 12 months, and 72 per cent have increased their staffing levels. The report found that 19 per cent of businesses remained the same for revenue growth and staffing levels in the last 12 months, with only four per cent seeing lower revenue, and nine per cent reducing staffing levels.

The annual Digital Skills Audit is collated by not-for-profit trade body Manchester Digital as part of the annual Digital Skills Festival, taking place this week and including a round table with Tech and Digital Minister Paul Scully as part of Wednesday’s Talent Day.

The report covers business confidence, working trends, tech skills and recruitment, diversity and inclusion. The data is collected from a cross-section of tech and digital businesses and individuals from across the North West.

In terms of future growth, 71 per cent of tech and digital businesses in the North West say that IT developers will be the most important job role for their growth over the next three years, while 49 per cent of businesses said that a lack of the right skills and experience in candidates is their biggest productivity challenge.

Some 63 per cent of tech and digital businesses in the North West said that they are taking action to help employees with the cost of living crisis, with this figure rising to 93 per cent of larger businesses, with more than 250 employees.

Hybrid working continues to embed itself in the tech and digital work culture, with respondents saying that 78 per cent of employees currently work in a hybrid manner, up from 44 per cent in 2022’s report.

Manchester Digital MD Katie Gallagher said: “The North West tech and digital sector is extremely resilient, with the data pointing to a broadly positive year, despite the current economic gloom. The diversity of our tech industry gives our region added resilience, with strengths across many sectors, including artificial intelligence, environmental and green technology, ecommerce and fintech.”

“Tech and digital businesses by their very nature are adaptable and flexible. Post-pandemic we have certainly seen a change in how tech businesses operate, with hybrid working firmly here to stay.”

The Digital Skills Audit is used by both regional and central government to assess the current state of the North West tech and digital industry, looking particularly at what tech skills are most needed and most difficult to find, as well as data around diversity and inclusion.

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