The annual Digital Skills Festival, the only event of its kind in the North, returns to Manchester next month to help plug the widening skills gap.
The four-day event – which counts leading businesses such as Autotrader, CDL, and CodeNation among its sponsors – brings together those interested in a digital career with education providers and digital and tech businesses from across the region to boost talent and skills.
Now in its sixth year the event, which is organised by digital trade association, Manchester Digital, takes place from 13 to 16 of February at The Lowry Hotel in Manchester.
The Digital Skills Conference opens the first day of the festival; with a number of keynote speakers and futurists discussing the key issues affecting digital and technology businesses, such as growth, rewards, inclusivity and diversity. The lineup of experts includes John Harvey, delivery manager at MoneySuperMarket and Alex Alexandrescu, co-founder and chief strategist at Dicey Tech.
The results of the annual digital skills audit, which looks at the issues digital businesses in the North have experienced over the past 12 months, will also be revealed at the conference.
Students and job seekers wanting to break into the industry are invited to the Talent Day – held on 14 February from 11am-3:00pm – to meet businesses looking for new talent. More than 50 digital, creative and tech companies, including KPMG, TalkTalk and N Brown Group will be attending to discuss the range of careers in the industry and give workshops and seminars on how best to get on the ladder.
Over 25 schools have signed up to take part in the festival’s Experience Day, which offers students the chance to get practical digital skills including coding, website building and app development.
This year a new event has been added to the line up, called Digital Futures: Computing, Curriculum and Careers, which is aimed specifically at teachers and careers advisers at schools and colleges in Greater Manchester. The half-day event will feature inspirational speakers, as well as practical workshops in digital making, ed tech and careers, which are designed to help teachers improve their knowledge and expertise.
Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital, said: “To achieve its ambition to become a leading digital city, Greater Manchester needs a strong pipeline of highly skilled digital talent. However, we are currently in the midst of a major talent shortage where demand for skilled professionals is outstripping supply.
“This is why the Digital Skills Festival is such an important event in showcasing the excellent career opportunities which are available with tech and digital businesses across the region. Not only this, but it presents a fantastic opportunity to bring the industry together, encouraging us to work towards solving our own problems rather than waiting for external solutions to present themselves.
“This Digital Skills Festival is an initiative to do just that – as well as tackling some of the key issues that our industry is currently facing, it aims to bring together education providers, business leaders and students to raise awareness, drive change and help deliver the volume and quality of digital and technology talent that our businesses need to thrive.”
John Harvey, delivery manager at MoneySupermarket commented: “Access to talent and the knock-on problems caused by the skills shortage are having a critical impact on businesses across the region. We’re hugely proud to be part of this year’s event, which will provide a great forum to discuss and tackle some of the key issues that our industry is currently facing.”