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Manchester’s tech sector is leading the charge when it comes to solving the skills gap

This content has been provided by our partners at Manchester Digital.

Much like the rest of the UK, Manchester’s tech sector is facing a battle to ensure there is enough talent available to support the exponential growth that we are witnessing.

Things are already difficult, a growing trend. Our 2019 Skills Audit revealed that almost a third of digital businesses in the region were forced to turn work away this year due to a lack of relevant skills within their organisation.

As if this stat wasn’t worrying enough, our research shows there will be at least an estimated 22,000 additional roles required by 2035 in order to power Greater Manchester’s digital and creative sector.

Although the size of the task must not be underestimated, Manchester’s pedigree when it comes to collaboration, innovation and self-reliance means that the region’s tech sector is well placed to meet this challenge head on.

So, as the trade body for Greater Manchester’s digital and tech businesses, what is Manchester Digital doing to help bridge the skills gap?

Digital Futures and Digital Her

Digital Futures is a GMCA-backed programme that uses industry support to encourage Greater Manchester’s young people to pursue careers within the digital sector.

Forward-thinking and progressive organisations are being asked to support this movement. Businesses the likes of AutoTrader, Sainsbury’s and Manchester City FC are amongst the businesses that have already signed up as Digital Futures Ambassadors.

We know from Greater Manchester’s Digital Strategy, and our long-standing work within education, that although young people show an initial interest in tech, this intrigue and active participation drops off by age fourteen, especially amongst young women.

That’s why we have also created  Digital Her – a programme that provides dedicated opportunities and mentorship to girls within the Greater Manchester area. This programme is especially important as – in spite of being avid users of technology – women are significantly underrepresented in its creation. This underrepresentation has serious consequences for both society and the future of technical innovation. Digital Her will empower more young women with the confidence and knowledge to pursue careers in tech.

We are seeing educators unable to keep up with the fast-paced changes in the tech industry, hence both programmes were created to address the fact that young people, parents and teachers lack  awareness of the range of careers and opportunities available in digital and tech, or of the pathways into the industry.

To achieve this mission, we are inviting Manchester-based businesses to get on board with these programmes and help increase the flow of young people with the right skills and aptitudes into the digital industry. Once registered, there are a number of ways businesses can get involved including: working with local schools to bring the computer science curriculum to life; providing work experience to students; educating teachers and careers advisors on the breadth of roles available in the sector; and knowledge sharing through masterclasses and workshops.

Digital Futures Stars Apprenticeship

Each year, our annual Skills Audit tells us that software developer roles are the most difficult to fill within Greater Manchester. To help ease demand, our members have asked us to tackle this issue directly.

We’ve done this by creating Digital Future Stars – a unique technical training programme that produces software developers qualified up to Level Four on an apprenticeship programme that is backed, designed and delivered with industry support.

The local ecosystem benefits from our Digital Futures Stars programme as it allows employers to have a direct input into the curriculum, ensuring that it is up to date whilst also encouraging greater diversity by opening up new pathways into coding.

The course is also highly respected within the industry, enjoying a lot of positive feedback from both the employers and learners involved.

Digital Skills Festival

The Digital Skills Festival is an annual event that Manchester Digital runs to help find and connect the North West’s best young digital talent with some of the region’s biggest tech employers whilst also raising awareness of the industry in order to tackle a widening skills shortage. For nearly a decade this has been a staple in the tech calendar for tech talent recruitment and continues to grow.

The five-day event is the UK’s largest digital skills careers fair, connecting 1,800 students from schools, colleges and universities across the region with respected industry professionals and employers, to highlight opportunities across the sector and help to connect and retain talent locally.

Get involved

The great work being done to support the futureproofing of the industry, couldn’t happen without our members. If you’re a Greater Manchester-based business that would like to find out how you can play your part in supporting the ecosystem, email emma@manchesterdigital.com to discuss getting involved in our Talent and Skills programme, or the benefits of becoming a Manchester Digital member.

Tech Week is expanding! Find out more about Manchester Tech Week 2019.

June 2019

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