Rise in computer professions as manufacturing jobs decline

The number of people working in programming and computer consultancy has risen by more than 250,000 workers over the past decade, according to Census data.

There were an extra 274,000 people who worked in the industry in 2021 compared to 2011, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed.

At the same time, traditional industries such as manufacturing, print and reproduction, and publishing saw widespread decline.

The data marks a shift towards the digitisation of society and changing cultural norms, though the ONS did not detail the reasons behind the shifting job patterns.

The rise in programming and computer consultancy employment was particularly stark in areas such as Cambridge where there was a 90% rise to 5,600 people working in the sector. The figure means nearly 1 in 12 were employed in the industry.

But it wasn’t even the largest percentage. In Wokingham there was the highest percentage of workers in the industry of around 1 in 9 of those in-work. Across England, that average was 3%.

Computing even overtook finance as what the ONS described as “an important area of employment” in London.

London remained the top place for accounting and legal services, but the proportion of residents employed in accounting and legal services fell in the capital and rose slightly across England.

Central areas of the capital now have a higher percentage of residents working in scientific research and development too.

Telecommunication work shifted to northern cities, away from areas in the south of England.

Other industries saw changes across the country as society and the economy changed.

The growth of online shopping led to more jobs to support delivery, particularly in the east and West Midlands.

The number of people who reported working in transport and storage went up around 17% in both areas over the ten years.

Similarly, there are now 13% more working in film, TV and music production. The numbers increased by 116,000 people in the 2021 census. Just under half of people working in this industry lived in London, the data showed.

The data was collected during the week of the census, when those in work at the time were asked about their employment.