The UK’s digital sector is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy, says a new report.
According to the latest annual survey from entrepreneur network Tech Nation, the turnover of digital technology companies increased year on year by 4.5 percent in 2017, compared with GDP growth of 1.7 percent over the same period.
PwC has projected reduced GDP growth in 2018 of 1.5 percent.
The digital sector is worth nearly £184 billion to the UK, up from £170 billion in 2016 – which is actually an increase in total value of 8.2 percent, according to the Internet of Business’ own calculations. At the same time, the number of jobs in digital technologies rose at five times the rate of the jobs created elsewhere in the economy, claims Tech Nation.
The report contains more good news for the British government, which has recently positioned artificial intelligence (AI) as a core component of the economy via the new Office for AI, and the new Sector Deal announced in April.
According to the report, diversity in the digital sector is improving as more black, Asian, and other ethnic minority workers are employed in technology than across the UK on average: 15 percent against 10 percent for the rest of the economy. If correct, the figures are encouraging, as just 13 percent of the UK population belongs to ethnic minorities, according to the government’s own figures.
Nearly three-quarters of the UK’s digital workers (72 percent) are over 35.
However, only 19 percent of the tech workforce is female, compared to 49 percent across all UK jobs, so technology remains a strongly male-dominated profession.
At UK Robotics Week last year, UK-RAS – the UK’s umbrella organisation for robotics and autonomous systems research – said that just 17 percent of all workers across science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) careers are women, while a senior academic speaking at a London forum on AI ethics earlier this year suggested that only 10 percent of coders are women.
Clearly, much more needs to be done to encourage women to enter the profession, and that movement needs to start in schools.