February 23, 2017

‘High’ Demand for Digital Skills in the South West, Survey Says

The results of a survey into demand for digital skills across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset have been released by Exeter-based Aptus Recruitment.

These results have been published this week in The Aptus Guide, which is intended to help professionals who are considering a digital or creative career in the South West weigh up the plethora of professional and lifestyle benefits the region has to offer.

Businesses in Exeter, Taunton and Plymouth, as well as throughout Devon, Somerset and Cornwall, took part in the survey.

South West Digital Skills Shortage?

Some digital skills, the survey found, are in short supply across the South West. Survey respondents highlighted how they have experienced a shortage of suitable candidates for roles like web developers and technical digital marketers, for example.

For candidates with the right marketing skills and experience, in particular, South West businesses offer good opportunities to climb the corporate ladder and progress professionally, both in-house and working for external agencies, the survey found.

To help plug this skills gap and attract top talent to the South West, Aptus created the online guide to help individuals from outside of the region better understand the type of opportunities available, the skills required and realistic salary expectations. An overview of the South West tech sector, local infrastructure and key employers is also included.

Lifestyle Benefits

Talking about the survey’s findings, Tom Murphy, Managing Director at Aptus, said: “Lifestyle continues to be a major factor for people choosing to live and work here, but we think there’s so much more to the area than that. The survey strongly suggests that there are good opportunities and people with the right skills are in demand.

“There are generally good prospects for candidates, especially developers, and employee retention is high. By identifying the advantages of working in the creative and digital sector, we hope to encourage more candidates to further their career in the South West, rather than automatically heading to a larger city.”

Further Findings

In addition to the above, the survey also found:

  • Back-end website developers are in high demand.
  • Front-end designers, graphic designers and technical digital marketers (SEO/PPC) are in more demand within agencies.
  • Social media executives are in more demand with clients.
  • Project managers are in low demand.
  • Entry-level staff can typically expect to earn around £18,000, rising up to £30,000 for mid-level management, on average.
  • Salaries are slightly higher client-side, but with more chance of flexi-time and a Christmas bonus on agency-side.
  • Progression opportunities are good – over a third of senior management teams have progressed within that company (both client and agency-side)
  • The average employee generally stays with an employer for 4 years.

Thought Leadership

Tech South West Chairman and blur Group CEO, Philip Letts, said of the survey’s findings: “We know that technology is the region’s fastest-growing sector which is fantastic. But of course, to sustain and nurture that, we need to ensure people have the opportunities to develop the right skills. Tech South West is working hard to encourage this. We believe there is a responsibility across organisations including businesses, schools, colleges and universities, to understand the skills that will be in demand now and in the coming years and focus on quality training in those areas.

“Companies that invest in training without doubt benefit, by being able to attract and retain the best, and of course it all contributes towards developing a stronger eco-system of organisations and opportunities, career pathways and growth.”

Sector ambassadors from across the South West were also interviewed as part of the survey.

Dan Pritchard, Managing Director of Exeter-based Astley Media, said: “We’ve grown to a team of 10 in a short space of time and that’s because clients are looking to build their business in new ways, including utilising digital channels. That’s good for people looking to develop exciting careers in the region’s creative sector.”

Paul Bird, Creative Designer at Elixel and co-founder of Digital Plymouth, said: “From a business perspective the South West is a prime location. You can set up with low overheads and we have strong connected digital and creative communities such as Software Cornwall, Digital Plymouth and Digital Exeter, which are filled with inspiring successful people who value the environment and the lifestyle we have down here.”

You can download The Aptus Guide for free here: www.aptusrecruitment.com/aptusguide2017/

The second edition of the survey, which is due later this year, will focus on candidate expectations of their employers in the South West.