The cloud is helping to fuel one of the biggest tech booms since the 90s, with IT hiring at its strongest rate since 1998.
With an 11 percent rise in tech sector employment on last year, cloud computing accounts for an astonishing six percent of job listings.
And with headcount reaching 720,000 industry-wide, unemployment in the sector has reached a low of 3.2 percent, down from 4.2 per cent in June.
With many non-tech companies making mobile and online a priority this year, tech led employment is burgeoning throughout the whole UK economy. And a proliferation of tech start-ups, particularly in the capital, is also enhancing employment figures.
So is industry growth sustainable or are we heading for inevitable bust a few years down the line?
London’s tech start-up scene is in transition. The set up phase has been nailed in the UK but there are concerns that the finance pool may be drained and growing the industry might become issue. With the domestic market naturally limited, many fledgling tech firms are beginning to look overseas for further capital and to grow their market, or considering floating on the stock market. Investors want to see returns from start up before releasing finds which could put a cap on further employment hikes in the industry.
And an industry wide concern that the cloud-led bubble may yet burst with improved tech capabilities ultimately reducing IT career prospects over the long term, there are fears that this year’s tech boom may be a prematurely optimistic forecast given the slow return to growth of the rest of the UK economy.
However, with healthy gains continuing in computer programming and consulting sectors, tech employment isn’t showing signs of slowing any time soon. And with a skills gap predicted well into the next decade, it remains a great time to be in tech.
The tech world is ushering in a new normal of diverse workforces with active recruitment programmes designed to target gay people in a bid to make the most of a range of skills and personalities.
With tech giants such as Google and Microsoft’s London based Skype setting up networking events specifically to court the capital’s often highly educated – and largely unencumbered – gay techies, it sends a message to the industry that ‘gay geeks’ are in high demand.
According to a study by the University of California 46 percent of gay men have a degree compared to their straight counterparts, and many are earning more than straight people in the same profession, suggesting that companies are rewarding people who are able to offer more to a company’s bottom line.
But does this make it more difficult for women to smash the tech ceiling tech? Not according to Computer Weekly magazine, who note a proliferation of tech startups are owned and managed by women. With more and more women choosing to leave jobs where they’ve been a small cog in a big wheel to fill tech niches where problems have not been solved by the market, these women are forging a path in tech where they gain the chance to work within tech areas that interest them, or meet their needs, as well as the working flexibility they want.
It’s a trend that started stateside, with a recent survey citing a 12 percent higher revenue on privately owned female-led tech firms, with an average 35 percent higher return on investment, according to the Women in Technology: Evolving, ready to save the world report.
For girls and gay geeks, the tech world stereotype is slowly being turned on its head.
With mixed reviews for her first year at the helm of ailing web portal Yahoo!, has CEO Marissa Mayer raised the game for Yahoo! or just for women in tech?
Ex-Google engineer and key spokesperson Mayer found notoriety for her early controversial decision to ban working from home at Yahoo! and for her comments that raising a newborn ‘was easy.’ But have her decisions as a high flying female in tech made more impact than her attempts to revive Yahoo!’s fortunes?
Yes and no. In a position of extraordinary scrutiny since she left Google to take the job of Yahoo! CEO at only 37, whilst pregnant with her first child, it was almost impossible for Mayer, along with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, to avoid becoming both a feminist icon, role model and also a scapegoat for women in tech.
But by focusing on these women’s achievements and policies because they are women and mothers seems rather anachronistic, rather than assessing their ability to do their job, which for Mayer, is to turn around the fortunes of a company that, according to many commentators, lost a decade to the likes of Facebook and Gmail.
The numbers speak for themselves. Yahoo! stock is up 75 percent and earnings rose by 46 per cent in the second quarter of Mayer’s tenure, with Mayer acquiring a variety of startups and taking on board the hottest mobile developer talent from an increasingly dry pool. With a clear direction for the web giant that is focused on devices and bringing its mobile offering in line with and exceeding its competitors, many will argue that Mayer has exceeded her remit in her first year in the job.
But the spotlight on her as a role model for women in tech is unlikely to fade, and whether she will adjust her workplace policies in favour of people with school age children as she herself adjusts to life as a working (albeit exceptionally well supported) parent, is a question many won’t be able to help asking.
However, having a young working mother in a leadership role will undoubtedly smooth access for other determined women who wish to emulate her success in the male dominated world of tech. And by the time many of the young women she’s inspired are making their way into leadership roles of their own, the conversation will, hopefully have shifted away from the fact that it is a woman doing the job, to being the impressive number of women in similar roles.