Leeds City Region firms back shift to digital skills


Businesses across Leeds City Region are getting behind Discover Digital, an employment and skills programme to help people move or retrain into digital roles.

Discover Digital, a Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership initiative, provides careers information for all, from graduates to career-changers looking to retrain or upskill into a digital role and improve their digital skills.

Businesses are invited to join the scheme to share the digital roles and skills they have in their organisation in order to raise awareness of the opportunities and demystify sector terminology. Recent additions include First Direct and Mastek based in Leeds, Netsells of York plus Probado based in Huddersfield.

These companies join over 25 others from across the region and from a variety of sectors across digital including banking and finance, learning and development, engineering and manufacturing, telecommunications, law, gaming and online retail. The website also features a range of case study videos from real people who have already taken steps to retrain or further their career.

It is estimated that there were up to 14,000 skill shortage vacancies in the City Region for digital professional roles in the last year and digital occupations are expected to account for 7% of total job openings over the next decade as the sector grows. The LEP is aiming to reduce this gap through initiatives such as Discover Digital, as well as providing careers inspiration in schools through the Futuregoals programme and Enterprise Advisor Network.

Tech Nation’s Report 2018 highlighted 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’.

The Leeds City Region digital sector is worth £6.5 billion alone, with 12,000 digital businesses employing 102,000 people with digital jobs increasing by 4.6 per cent in the last 5 years – 3 times the average for employment as a whole.

Roger Marsh, Chair of the NP11 Board and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said:“With digital sector jobs growing at 10 times the rate of non-digital jobs across the City Region and employers struggling to fill vacancies, it is essential that we ensure people can find out about these and acquire the skills that they need to excel in these fields.

“Discover Digital highlights the skills needed for different roles, attracting graduates to career changers. It is fantastic to see all areas of the sector collaborate to help fill the digital skills gap and prevent this from being a barrier to their productivity.”

Louis Brook, Chief Information Officer at first direct, 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.

“As a significant tech employer in Leeds going through a period of growth we can use platforms like Discover Digital to reach people as we try to increase our talent which will in turn have an impact on the digital skills gap in our region.”