Industries to watch in 2020

Chris Hickey, UK CEO at global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, marks GBI Magazine’s card


“With the outcome of the General Election now declared and Brexit at the centre of plans for 2020, we anticipate that there will be greater opportunities amongst emerging industries, disruptors and SMEs. Those sectors receiving notable VC funding will be ones to watch.

“It’s businesses in these categories that will drive the hiring agenda by recruiting agile, tech-proficient and commercially savvy professionals who have their finger on the pulse of developing markets.”


Education technology – edtech – is one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors, growing at 22% year-on-year and worth an estimated £170 million to the UK economy in exports alone.

The UK edtech market is expected to reach £3.4bn by 2021 (out of a total of £100bn UK education market) and is home to more than 1,200 edtech companies – approximately a quarter of the total number in Europe.

With spending and funding rife, the industry shows no signs of slowing down. In the UK alone schools are spending close to £900 million on edtech each year to leverage learning, and the education secretary has pledged a further £10million to support innovation. Coupled with this, the UK ranks number one in edtech venture capital funding in Europe – receiving more than a third (34%) of total investment to the continent.

Tom Chambers, Senior Manager – Technology at Robert Walters comments:

“For the last few years the fintech sector has been making significant noise in the recruitment market – with a 61% increase in job creation in 2019. What’s interesting is that edtech has now reached the same number of digital companies as financial technology and so I will expect to see a lot of competition between companies for top talent in 2020, which will naturally boost salaries and workplace benefits for anyone working in these sectors.”


A number of startups in the UK have emerged at the forefront of agricultural technology – with the industry accounting for £14.3 billion in turnover and more than half a million jobs in the UK right now.

The value is not surprising given over 70% of land in the UK is used for agriculture – representing over 7% of Europe’s total agriculture market.

Chambers states: “The UK is no stranger to agritech and is home to many farmers who already integrate technology into their work with excellent results.

“Therefore it is not surprising to see the UK fast becoming a destination for tech companies to establish their businesses, not least because of our history of being a world leader in plant and animal science and being home to some of the most established agricultural research institutions in the world – 20% of the UK workforce is in science and so talent is not an issue.

“Secondly, the UK proves an ideal environment for start-ups with access to one of the world’s leading venture capital industries and a major global financial centre. Venture capital investment in the UK is booming, with British tech firms attracting more venture capital funding than any other European country.”


According to the Robert Waters report, The UK Fintech Revolution,  in 2020 London will be home to just as many fintech ‘unicorns’ (companies worth more than $1bn) as current global leader San Francisco. Of the 29 fintech unicorns worldwide, nine are in San Francisco, while seven are housed in the UK.

E-money firms (as defined by the FCA) grew by 51% last year, and it is predicted that by 2020 over half of payment service providers in the UK will be digital-only.

Over a third (39%) of European venture capital funding goes to London fintechs – almost double any other city in Europe; Berlin (21%), Paris (18%), Stockholm (5%), Barcelona (4%), Amsterdam (4%), Zurich (3%), Copenhagen (2%) and Dublin (2%).

Hickie adds: “When spotlighting the UK’s leading fintech unicorns, the income growth they have achieved over the past twelve months is phenomenal – increasing from a combined £77.1m to £177.6m revenue. That’s a revenue growth of 130% in just one year.”

Such is the growth of the industry, that in 2019 job creation within the fintech space increased by 61% – making it the fastest growing sector in the London economy.

And the benefits were not just felt in the capital; last year the fintech boom created an 18% uplift in job creation in regions outside London.

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