IT experts working as Umbrella Company Employees in the South may feel nervous about casting their search for new assignments further afield; however, it may just be that the UK’s second city, Birmingham, has a cure for those who fear straying too far from London.

Birmingham has been steadily building a well-deserved reputation for itself as a hub for digital businesses, according to investment manager Marek Dobrowolski of the development agency Business Birmingham.

His remarks were prompted by the announcement from fashion retailer ASOS of a new Birmingham office. Why did such a prestigious company chose Birmingham? It seems that the city is the place to be for IT talent. ASOS said that it was “taking advantage of one of the UK’s largest digital sector talent pools and a growing specialism in e-commerce across the city.”

There is obviously something in this: this is the first time the fashion giant has opened a regional office outside the South East. Mr Dobrowolski gives a clue: the city attracts 40,000 students every year to computer science and business courses. Birmingham, he says, “stacks up as a genuine alternative to the traditional digital enclaves in the South East”.

20 senior IT pros will be recruited to begin with to staff the office, including senior database and software engineers, and a further 30 are envisioned later in the year. The aim is to build new websites catering to the tastes of customers in expanding markets such as Germany and France.

The move by ASOS, Mr Dobrowolski believes, “will help us put Birmingham’s offer for the creative and digital sectors in the spotlight”.

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