Sonatype: COVID-19 causes 28% drop in UK software development

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New research from Sonatype suggests COVID-19 has caused a 28 percent drop in UK software development.

COVID-19 has gripped countries around the world and grinded their economies to a halt. Britain’s furlough scheme – seeing the state pay 80% of people’s wages – has prevented the level of job losses seen in many countries, but that’s still over 7.5 million people currently sitting idle.

Sonatype measured open-source software download requests from The Central Repository over a 15-month period from January 2019 to April 2020 for their research. The analysis focuses on seven key regions; the UK, US, China, Germany, Spain, Italy, and India.

The UK stood out for a decline in software development activity while other nations continued to increase. The biggest increase was noted in Germany (12%) while the US (6%) also grew substantially.

“Given the disruption that COVID-19 has caused to businesses worldwide, it seemed inevitable that the pandemic would impact the software development industry in some way, shape, or form,” said Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype.

“In the UK, as open source software downloads continue to decline during lockdown, the developer community should be encouraged by the resilience of developers in the US and Germany, which have demonstrated that the nature of the software development profession can be conducive to remote working and maintaining innovation.”

Software development is often done remotely, or can easily be adapted to, so it’s no surprise to see little impact on global activity levels. However, the unique downturn in the UK suggests employers are perhaps taking advantage of the furlough scheme to protect their businesses from disruption without having to lay-off staff.

While job losses are somewhat permanent, furloughing is meant to be a temporary measure so people can return to work as the economic situation improves. That means the UK economy should be able to bounce back relatively quickly.

“Prior to the crisis, software development activity in the UK had increased by 78% from January 2019 – February 2020,” Jackson continued. “This highlights the growing momentum for software innovation in the UK market, which we anticipate will ramp up again in the coming weeks.”

“In China, which suffered a similar decline, we are starting to see the pattern of a V-shaped recovery begin to emerge, and we hope to see a similar trend in the UK as lockdown eases.”

(Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash)

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