‘Jobs Bloodbath’ states the headlines of the City AM this morning. Scanning down the page one finds more pessimism as all of the major indices are down. The landslide does not stop here. Turn to page 3 and we are confronted by the news that 100,000 jobs have already been lost in the past year. But wait, there’s more; real pay is down 2.9% – meaning those of us lucky enough to still have or jobs are earning equivalently less, due to pay not rising in line with inflation.
It’s clear to all that the UK is currently going through some really tough times, everybody has been effected by this ‘crisis’. The double dip proclamation has sadly been fulfilled.
I’m lucky enough to work in the tech sector and right now the story could not be more contrasted. For the past 2 years my IT and software consultancy business has been growing steadily (albeit not at the rates experienced in the early 2000s). I have to concede that the IT sector as a whole has shrunk slightly over the past two years but this is – compared to the financial services sector over the same period.
Within the tech sector currently exists a thriving sub culture of Startups. This ecosystem has grown up over the past decade borrowing elements from business practices in Silicon Valley. Right now for every bad piece of coverage in the media surrounding the global financial crisis there is an equally uplifting and positive story from tech. Indeed within this forming Startup community we are not just talking about geeks with beards in their garages hacking away on computers. I refer to well structured technically advanced companies with strong business models. Having been immersed in this culture myself for the past 10 years I can attest to the significant boom witnessed over the past 24 months. Indeed the UK government is backing tech as the saviour through David Cameron’s TechCity programme. This is not a mear ‘bet all on black’ moment. This is a clear and calculated strategic decision backed by government to help mature the software and online development businesses.
Indeed I sometimes feel that I am in a dual world right now, on the one side a world of constant failures being reported from the financial district and on the other one of hope, prosperity and entrepreneurship from the technology community. In the UK it has been too long that the financial sector has dominated the East End of the city of London. If the banks are not careful they will lose significant ground around Bank. Indeed the startup culture has it’s roots around the Old Street roundabout in London, but already these startups and new web based companies are gaining ground in Liverpool Street, Clerkenwell and Farringdon. The likes of The Europas, the night of celebration for the European tech startups and the technology recruitment fair “Silicon Milkroundabout” both strengthen and validate the output of the technology sector.
If you read the newspapers or work within financial services you might feel like the whole world is crashing around you right now. If you want to immerse yourself in good news and seek reassurance that areas of the UK economy are growing look no further than the technology and creative digital communities. Here you will find people with their heads down in development, driving revenues with proving business models.
Right now more industries should be taking a leaf out of the Silicon Roundabout book. Join the revolution.
What are your views on the UK tech scene and ‘silicon roundabout’? Are we facing a .com bubble 2.0 or should everyone be ‘taking elements from business practices in Silicon Valley’?