If you’re a developer, data scientist or IT systems architect in the UK, you don’t have to look far to know that your skillset is in high demand. Almost every week new research hits the headlines uncovering the most lucrative roles in tech, the most popular programming languages and the list goes on. But what about those of us in non-technical positions, like PR and marketing for example, working in jobs within the tech industry?
A new report by Tech Nation, officially launched at last week's ‘A Bright Tech Future’ event at the Barbican, revealed that digital tech vacancies are ‘booming’ across the UK. Interestingly, the research – which combined data from the Office of National Statistics and Adzuna – investigated digital economy opportunities for people with technical skills and those of us with broader business skills including PR, marketing, HR and legal. It found that in some cities up to a third of jobs advertised in the tech sector are for candidates in non-tech roles.
In fact, to thrive in the UK’s increasingly competitive digital environment, fast-growing tech companies need to build teams with a range of different skillsets, not just technical. As Tech Nation’s Head of Insights, George Winsdor, highlighted last week, the UK needs talented individuals to fill non-digital roles in order to ensure the ‘fitness’ of its tech companies.
From the perspective of a B2B tech PR professional, this means having the ability to communicate a client’s technical messaging effectively and, importantly, accurately. It means making this complex messaging accessible to a range of different audiences – including those without technical expertise – by producing transparent content and developing engaging campaigns that actually tell a story. This requires having the ability to problem solve, think creatively and see beyond what is directly in front of us. It also entails possessing an in-depth knowledge of a range of niche subject matters – DevOps, open source technologies, AI and machine learning, to name a few.
The importance of softer skills within the tech industry cannot be overlooked – and this encompasses both technical and non-technical roles. During the panel discussion, Lorrainne Metcalf, Chief Talent Officer at Zoopla, emphasised the growing significance of these skills within the tech sector, especially in the age of automation. Ruth Penfold, VP People at Onfido added that creating a culture where people are ‘continuously learning’ is essential for survival. This was reiterated by the Minister for Digital and Creative Industries, MP Margot James who highlighted that digital skills should not be looked at in isolation but also alongside creative and interpersonal skills.
Of course, rapidly scaling tech companies require highly skilled developers and data analysts to keep up with the current accelerated pace of innovation. And as the digital tech landscape becomes more competitive, cutting through the noise and telling the right story is more important than ever. Tech skills are - and always will be - in high demand; tech PR and comms are no exception.
And while tech-driven roles are at the heart of the boom, the rise of digital tech companies has also driven demand for staff with broader skills such as consulting, accountancy and PR.