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Campaign to inspire future digital pioneers launches

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30 Aug 2018

Over 102,000 people currently work in the Leeds City Region’s digital sector and that number is expected to grow at 10 times the rate of non-digital jobs. Now a new campaign by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) called Discover Digital has launched, to inspire people into training, re-training or up-skilling to help meet the demand for digitally skilled jobs.

According to the Northern Tech 100 Report by Tech North, Leeds City Region is home to 23 of the fastest growing technology businesses in the North. The sector combines creative media, data analytics, cyber security, FinTech, telecoms and health and education technologies and is already transforming global businesses.In addition, the region boasts the highest number of scale-up digital companies outside the South East and is outstripping Bristol and Manchester for employment growth in digital and creative industries.

By helping people develop their skills and advance their careers and prospects through Discover Digital, the LEP aims to prevent a digital skills shortage becoming a barrier to productivity. Tech Nation’s Report 2018 showed that the City Region is in line with a UK digital skills shortage. The UK network for tech entrepreneurs reported that when asked, 50% of the UK’s digital tech community highlighted a shortage of highly skilled employees and nearly 25% described sourcing talent as a ‘major challenge’.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: 

“With digital sector jobs set to grow at 10 times the rate of non-digital jobs across the City Region, it is essential that we ensure people can find out about them and can acquire the skills that they need to excel in these fields.

“Through Discover Digital we are demystifying and explaining the roles, the skills and the qualifications required, and providing people with real-life examples of people that have switched to digital jobs and the companies the can work for.

“I would urge anyone whether they are planning a career change, wanting to up-skill or have recently graduated to visit the Discover Digital website and find out how they can be part of this hugely successful and growing field.”

Rashik Parmar MBE, Technical Executive IBM Europe and IBM Distinguished Engineer, LEP Board Member and Chair of the LEP Employment and Skills Panel, said: 

“The challenges that large companies face in the digital sector include getting the right talent, getting the right skills and providing the range of employment to keep people motivated. So when we look at the Discover Digital campaign there are tremendous skills around here, inside the region, as well as fantastic colleges, universities and training to support with this.

“We all want to harness and employ these skills to give people appropriate jobs and inspire them to progress in their digital career. It is possible to employ people who can live and work locally whilst solving problems on a global scale – creating those meaningful jobs that in turn creates the impact around the world and inspires people into these roles, within our region.”

Stuart Clarke, Director at Leeds Digital Festival, said: 

“The digital and tech sector in the Leeds City Region is growing rapidly and in some areas we have a seen a skills and talent gap where employers are struggling to fill vacancies.

“Websites and campaigns such as Discover Digital are vital to showcase the skills needed for different roles and also to attract more people from graduates to career changers. It's great to see all areas of the sector collaborate to help fill the skills gap.”

Nikita Anand, Software Tester at Virtual College and appearing on the Discover Digital website talking about her digital role, said: 

“In my role as Software Tester, I haven’t come across stereotypes in my workplace so I don’t feel that I am treated any differently because I am a woman. However, when asked in the outside world what my role is and I answer ‘Software Tester’ I have had occasions where people say “what really, you don’t look like a Tester” which shouldn’t be the case.

“That is why I think the Discover Digital campaign is so important to demystify technical roles and show their appeal so that more women apply for jobs like this and the misconception is broken down.”

Visitors to the new Discover Digital website - discoverdigital.org.uk - will find information and links to explore new careers, potential employers and hear inspiring stories to help them develop their career. The site also features business profiles and links to useful networks and learning providers.