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Manchester Tech Could Lead Property Recovery, If It Can Solve This Talent Problem First

Young tech talent may not be enough for the Manchester tech sector to grow.

If Manchester's tech sector is to keep on growing it needs more mid- and senior-level talent. Young tech talent is not, on its own, enough.

That is one of the messages from a panel of Manchester tech entrepreneurs assembled by TechNation, and led by Liz Scott, Tech Nation’s Manchester-based head of entrepreneur engagement. 

The risk that a talent shortage could choke the sector’s growth will alarm developers and investors who have been focusing on the £5.6B plans for sites along Manchester’s Oxford Road science and tech corridor.

Participants said they were drawing on talent from Manchester and Liverpool, both cities being a strong source of career-minded software developers likely to stay with a business for the long term, TechNation reported.

But participants said that the talent pool is not growing fast enough to meet demand. The regional talent shortage is at a mid- and senior level, and the shortages at this grade could inhibit growth. Young tech talent, in which the city abounds, is not enough.

Manchester is now Europe's fastest-growing major tech cluster, with investment growing from £48M in 2018 to £181M in 2019. It is ranked with Oxford and Cambridge in Europe’s top 20 tech destinations, according to TechNation 2020.

Participants in the round table were hopeful it could help lead the regional economy out of post-pandemic doldrums.

Speakers expressed the hope that remote working might encourage some London-based specialists to relocate to Manchester. Participants also raised the prospect of some tech businesses retaining London offices for sales and fundraising, but moving the bulk of the tech operation to the north west.

The rapid growth of the city’s tech sector, up 277% annually according to the latest TechNation report, has been underpinned by high graduate retention. As many as 51.5% of students who study in Manchester stay after graduation, second in the UK to London.