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The UK’s software engineering environment is thriving, and international talented engineers can join it through the UK Global Talent visa. Why is the UK a top destination for software engineering professionals? Firstly, in 2024, the UK became Europe’s most developed digital economy, according to the CCIA Research Center and Public First research. Additionally, the UK is home to numerous major tech companies and the highest number of tech “unicorns” in Europe. This creates a vibrant and prosperous environment for software engineering professionals.
Do you have what it takes to contribute to the UK’s growing tech field and software engineering market? In that case, the UK Global Talent visa for digital technology professionals might be worth paying attention to.
This article explores the opportunities presented by the UK Global Talent Visa, specifically for software engineers. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the UK market, including insights into salaries and the skills in the highest demand. Following this, the article will offer detailed guidance and pathways for applying for the UK Global Talent Visa for Digital Technology professionals, enabling software engineers to navigate the process with greater ease and understanding.
Top Software Engineering Roles in the for UK Global Talent Visa Applicants
The landscape of software engineering in the UK is continually evolving. To prove: in 2019, the UK’s software market achieved revenues of approximately $23.7 billion, marking a compound annual growth rate of 12.7% from 2015 to 2019. The growth during the last decade is largely due to the increasing dependence of businesses and individuals on electronic devices, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the past three years, the most in-demand software engineering roles in the UK have consistently been back-end engineers, full-stack engineers, and front-end engineers. These roles have garnered the most interview requests on the marketplaces, indicating their high demand in the industry.
Interestingly, the demand for front-end engineers has seen a noticeable increase in the last two years. They experienced a 3.5% increase in demand in 2021 and an additional 1% in 2022.
Meanwhile, back-end engineers witnessed a slight decline in demand, with a 2.5% drop in interview requests in 2021 and a further 2% decline in 2022.
Full-stack engineers also saw a slight decrease in demand, with a 7% drop between 2021 and 2022.
Even with slight declines in demand, these positions remain some of the most requested on the UK market. There’s a growing demand for front-end engineers, possibly due to the increasing importance of user-friendly websites and applications, as users’ expectations for online experiences continue to rise.
In a survey conducted with UK software engineers on the Hired marketplace, they ranked their preferred programming languages as follows:
Their preferences were based on several factors. The top reasons included the availability of resources for learning and development, cited by 66% of respondents, a strong personal familiarity with the language (64%), and a robust ecosystem, such as useful and well-maintained libraries and packages (also 64%).
Interestingly, these preferred skills perfectly align with the demands of UK employers.
Python’s versatility makes it popular for a wide range of applications, from data analytics and machine learning to design. Its popularity stems from its ease of use, simple syntax, and strong community support as an open-source language.
The overlap in favourite and in-demand skills indicates a synergy between what engineers prefer to work with and the market demand.
More reasons for talented software engineers to move to UK
According to IT Jobs Watch, the average salary for a Software Engineer is around £65,000 a year in the UK. This information, pulled from job listings in the six months up to January 23, 2024, highlights a significant range in what software engineers earn. Those at the lower end of the spectrum make about £41,500, but salaries can soar as high as £113,375. Also, where you work in the UK can affect your salary. For instance, places like London typically pay more than other areas.
While these figures give a broad idea of what software engineers can expect to earn, the actual salary can vary. Things like your experience level, specific skill set, and the particular area of software engineering play a big role in determining your pay. For example, software engineers in specialized roles or those working with cutting-edge technologies are often on the higher end of the salary scale, as seen in various job ads throughout the UK.
Here are our top cities in the UK for software engineers to find tech jobs with the highest salaries:
London is the leading city in the UK for tech jobs, and it’s also the main destination in Europe for technology funding. In 2022, London’s tech firms, particularly in gaming, EdTech, and Fintech, secured $19.8 billion in venture capital. The city offered over 600,000 tech job openings between May 2021 and May 2022, which is about 50% more than the entire Southeast region. Moreover, London ranks as the second-best global city for tech professionals, considering salary averages against living costs.
Known as ‘the cradle of innovation,’ Manchester is a top regional tech city in the UK, with 80,000 tech job openings posted between May 2021 and 2022. The city has become a hub for networks, cybersecurity, broadcasting technologies, and cloud transformation.
Birmingham, the fastest-growing tech hub in the UK as of 2021, had a market value of £15.3 billion. The city listed 40,911 tech vacancies from May 2021 to 2022. Its tech scene is diverse, with 26% of its digital tech workers being from BAME backgrounds, higher than the 15% national average.
Bristol recorded 36,006 tech job postings between May 2021 and 2022, ranking it third outside London. It’s considered the best city for tech jobs in terms of growth, cost of living, and salary opportunities. The city’s tech startup scene is thriving, with £220 million in venture capital funding in early 2022 alone.
Cambridge, with its world-renowned universities, attracts multinational companies seeking top graduate tech talent. The city’s ‘Cambridge Cluster’ tech sector, focusing on artificial intelligence and biotechnology, comprises almost 5,000 companies and is home to both big tech firms and rising startups like Darktrace and Five AI.
Software engineers in the UK face a choice between contract and permanent roles. Each path offers distinct advantages and challenges:
Pros: Contractors often enjoy higher hourly rates and the flexibility to choose projects that align with their interests and expertise. As of 2023, contract rates for software engineers in the UK ranged from £38 to £93 an hour, varying based on factors like experience and location.
Cons: Contractors must navigate the complexities of self-employment, including managing their tax status under regulations like IR35.
Pros: Permanent positions provide stability, structured career progression, and benefits such as pensions and health insurance. These roles offer a sense of security and continuous professional development opportunities within an organization.
Cons: The salaries might be lower compared to contracting.
Eligibility for Software Engineers
The UK Global Talent Visa perfectly suits the needs of talented and promising international software engineers aiming to join and enhance the UK’s thriving tech and IT sectors. This type of visa is particularly attractive for software engineers because it does not require a job offer or sponsorship, allowing them the freedom to pursue their career goals and potentially leading to British citizenship.
To qualify for the UK Global Talent Visa, software engineers must demonstrate significant achievements in the digital technology field. As technical applicants, software engineers must exhibit proficiency in the latest software engineering technologies, such as advanced programming, system architecture, or new technology development.
Software engineers can apply through two routes: Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise.
This pathway suits software engineers with over 5 years of experience, who have demonstrated leadership in the digital technology sector.
Achieving Exceptional Talent status allows software engineers to settle permanently in the UK after 3 years.
The Exceptional Promise route is perfect for those candidates with less than 5 years of experience but showing potential in the software engineering field. Requirements include:
How to Apply for the UK Global Talent Visa as a Software Engineer
The process of applying for a UK Global Talent visa as a software engineer involves two stages: Endorsement Application and Visa Application.
To secure endorsement from Tech Nation, you need to demonstrate your expertise in at least 2 out of the following 4 areas:
For software engineers, this visa provides a pathway to engage with the UK’s vibrant tech sector, offering the opportunity to leverage their skills and potentially lead to permanent residency. It’s important to carefully prepare your application to highlight your contributions and expertise in software engineering.
For talents wanting to showcase their software engineering skills in the UK market, Tech Nomads offers tailored strategies and robust support in UK Tech Global Mobility.
Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services for international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating talents and teams. Our expertise in adapting to regulatory changes ensures our clients’ satisfaction and success.
To explore your UK relocation options, you may:
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