Yorkshire Cities are Becoming Digital Hubs

The UK is the digital capital of Europe, but that title doesn’t just belong to London anymore.

The UK’s digital technology sector is growing faster than the economy and spreading beyond the south-east and big regional cities.

In 2017, Tech Nation reported that the tech industry expanded 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy. The digital tech sector is worth nearly £184 billion to the UK economy, up from £170 billion in 2016.

From 2014 to 2017, the digital tech sector employment rose 13.2%, and workers are more productive, on average, by £10,000 per employee. Jobs requiring digital tech skills command higher salaries, on average, £42,578 compared to £32,477 per year for non-digital roles. However, the industry is currently facing a skills gap due to the continuing development of new technology and lack of education available.

The UK Government is aiming for the sector to continue growing so that by 2025 its contribution to the economy rises to £200 billion. To achieve this, they must put strategies in place to create the right conditions for the digital sector to continue to thrive and to ensure the benefits are spread throughout the UK.

Over the past five years, we’ve seen the rapid growth of the digital scene take over Yorkshire cities.


The Steel city is now home to one of the largest growing digital sectors which has increased by 47% in turnover over the past year. Sheffield and South Yorkshire’s digital industry employs over 21,000 people. The top 25 tech companies in Sheffield City Region alone employ more than 12,000 people and bring in more than £2 billion a year.

Tech Nation’s recent survey found that start-ups are attracted to Sheffield because of the quality of life, cost of living and the local growth potential. However, they are also concerned about poor transport, low awareness of the local digital industry and the lack of high-skilled workers.

As the city’s digital and tech sector continues to grow it’s vital that businesses get the right support. Sheffield Digital offers expert advice for start-ups and growing businesses.

Sheffield Digital aims to help develop the best possible environment for setting up, working in and growing digital businesses in Sheffield and the surrounding region.

There’s also a range of events open to aspiring and expert techies. These events happen all year round and are free to attend. Recently UX Sheffield hosted a User Experience talk with James Nation, Head of Design and UX at Beano Studios. You can find out more about these events here - https://sheffield.digital/events/


Famous for Cluedo and M&S, Leeds is now becoming known for its digital innovation and booming tech scene. Leeds has welcomed well-known agencies such as Stickyeyes, Epiphany and twentysix.

In 2017, the NHS Digital and HMRC moved into a new 'government hub' in Leeds, near the city's main train station. The government is aiming to employ 6,000 civil servants who will work in Wellington Place. The government claims that the programme will deliver taxpayer savings, act as a catalyst for regional growth and ensure the delivery of the best quality services to the public.

It’s predicted that Leeds could reposition itself as one of the leading digital capitals of Europe. Tech Nation reported that there are 25,400 people employed across the digital, information and creative sector.

Leeds has seen a series of creative co-working spaces open to house new digital start-ups.

The recently completed Yorkshire House is a multi-million-pound project has 83,000 sq ft of office space, large cycle storage and seven storeys of stone cladding. The Yorkshire house is said to future proof the digital and tech sectors in Leeds.

The Leeds Digital Hub based in the University Business Centre provides a space for digital, creative and media businesses who have access to a supportive environment. The hub, in partnership with The Yorkshire Post, has flexible monthly contracts, training and mentoring, and 24/7 access.

The tech sector in Leeds is expecting to receive a £3.7 million grant from their local council to back innovative tech projects.

What we can expect

Over the next few years, we can expect to see 85,000 more digital tech jobs in the UK compared to two years ago, growing from 1.56 million to 1.64 million.

According to On Magazine, we can expect to see a considerable growth of gaming tech companies pop up in the North of England.

However, the rapid growth could cause a shortfall in the supply of digital and tech-skilled employees for organisations.

Elevation’s Marketing Business Manager, Rachael Lee explained why the talent gap is becoming a barrier for digital and tech companies to grow: “We are finding that clients are struggling to recruit digital managers as not everywhere has a dedicated digital team, especially in smaller organisations, and the role is often part of an employee’s broader job specification.

Digital Marketing Specialists are now desired roles for many businesses, so the pressure to keep hold of this talent is high, which means the movement within the market for digital professionals is often more difficult.

We are seeing more universities, and the CIM offering more digitally focused courses which means it could take up to five years for the skillset to meet the demand.

At present, the most popular elements of digital marketing for businesses are social media and content writing which businesses are recruiting dedicated employees for, with SEO and PPC being part of a more extensive role.”

 If you are a digital business looking to find the right talent to take your business to the next level, contact us today.





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