Skilled IT workers head north ? Regional regeneration encourages development for the channel

Northward-bound exodus shifts nationwide balance of power

More and more skilled workers within the channel are heading north, prompting industry figures to suggest the migration could tip the balance of power away from the traditional economic powerbase of the south east of England – and claiming that the north could be seeing a renaissance within the IT industry.

The shift also sees a period of growth for northern-based distributors who are dealing primarily with local companies but who can also take advantage of having significantly lower cost than their southern counterparts.

"Trade customers throughout the UK are relying more and more on distribution companies like Target who are located in the north," said Randall Pevin, market development director of Yorkshire-based Target Components.

"Generally we are able to hold more stock and provide consistently low prices because our overheads remain significantly lower. We pass that economy through to the channel.

"Additionally, because there has been a quantifiable migration of experienced workers to the north, we have added skilled employees at a faster rate than ever before. I suspect the migration of the talent pool is based, at least in part, on people choosing a lifestyle associated with the area.

"We continue to see northern distributors growing at the expense of their southern counterparts and expect the trend to continue."

Manchester based-IT solutions provider ANS has been awarded Cisco Gold status, ranking its services alongside blue chip firms like BT, and its CEO Scott Fletcher was recently awarded the prestigious ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award.

ANS recently reported year-on-year growth of 64 per cent, with its revenues exceeding £10 million for the first time. "I’ve been getting a lot of CVs on my desk whereby people are a lot more willing to relocate.

"It’s only a couple of hours to London on the train and we’re finding there’s a lot of people who are quite happy to live in Manchester and commute down when they need too," Fletcher told PC Retail. "There’s the cheaper housing up here but people still get quite a good wage for their trouble – which is a good business model."

This trend of northern relocation is compounded by various regional council initiatives, encouraging businesses to migrate from the south through the kind of incentive and regenerative measures seen in Manchester.

"The digital and creative industries sector in England’s north west is pivotal to the region’s knowledge economy," said Iain Bennett, of the North- West Regional Development Agency. "Since the mid-1990s, the sector has expanded at twice the rate of the wider UK economy.

"This year the North-West Regional Development Agency launches the Northwest Digital and Creative Industries Sector Strategy and Action Plan, to grow regional output by £1 billion-a-year by 2015 and take the sector into an even brighter future."

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