I can’t stress enough the huge benefits of learning digital skills. We help so many people through the Online Centres Network to realise the importance of learning and developing this skill set but there are still some people who just don’t think it’s relevant. In fact, according to our Digital Nation infographic 2016, one of the most commonly perceived barriers to 50% of people getting online is that they think they don’t need digital. But the Tech Nation 2017 report, released this week, has a lot of stats in it demonstrating how vital tech is, not just to individuals but to the economy, and this really backs up my argument.
This is the third annual report of its type released by Tech City and it analyses how technology companies are performing across the country in individual areas. To produce the report they analysed data points, collected survey responses and incorporated insights from over 220 community partners across the UK, in order to get the clearest picture from those who know best – those working on the ground.
Some very interesting stats
The type of people discussed in the report have a lot more experience in the world of digital than the socially and digitally excluded people that we aim to reach within the Online Centres Network but I found the stats interesting as they show just how beneficial technology and the tech industry can be to individuals and to the economy as a whole, and there’s no reason why the people supported through the network can’t become a ‘techie’ themselves.
With 12.6 million digitally excluded people in the UK, I’d never thought of it as the digital capital of Europe but according to this report and these stats, that’s what we are. In the UK, digital tech investment stood at £6.8bn in 2016 (£28bn in the past 5 years), compared with other EU countries like France (£2.4bn in 2016) and Germany (£1.4bn in 2016).
Thinking about this kind of investment, surely that means the tech industry is giving back to the economy? It is. The annual contribution to the UK economy for tech workers is £103,000 per year – their gross added value is more than double that of the £50,000 contribution from those not working in technology.
With such huge benefits to the economy, individuals working in the tech industry are greatly rewarded. The average tech salary in the UK is £50,663 compared with non-tech jobs which stands at £35,155. This is 44% higher than the national average.
There’s more jobs in this area too. Between 2011 and 2015 the growth rate of digital jobs was more than double that of non-digital jobs and the report found that the UK has 1.64 million digital tech jobs in total; the digital economy is growing 50% faster than the wider economy.
But we have to make sure that we’re helping the tech industry to be all it possibly can be and that means tackling the problems they face head on. One problem which didn’t surprise me was highlighted in the report, stating that poor digital infrastructure is a business challenge for many (28% – over a quarter of survey respondents). This isn’t just in rural areas – the highest proportions were in large cities such as Glasgow, Dundee and Brighton.
Why start a career in tech?
I suppose many people would ask this question. If these stats aren’t enough to convince you, I really don’t know what is. The benefit of digital skills, not just to the economy, but to individuals as well are endless and working in the technology industry can be very rewarding, especially when you’re developing apps and systems which will benefit those who are most in need, everything from helping those with hearing loss to fighting deforestation.
I think a career in tech can be beneficial and rewarding in more ways than one. But don’t take my word for it – get out there, adopt your inner ‘techie’ and see what the world has to offer.