Digital Jobs Fair shows Leeds tech strengths

With the digital sector flourishing, it is important that Leeds residents and students are able to benefit from the thousands of jobs being created in the city.

Leeds is in the midst of a digital jobs revolution that is transforming the local economy. In recent years, we’ve seen thousands of new digital jobs created by major multinationals such as SkyBet, LexisNexis and Jet2, and by countless start-ups and small firms in exciting workspaces like Duke Studios. We’re also home to pioneering research by the likes of ODI Leeds, a not-for-profit organisation using open data to improve local services, as well as two universities leading the way in tech research.

According to last year’s Tech Nation report, Leeds is home to 23,734 digital jobs, with an average advertised salary of over £50,000 – well above the average national wage. Our city is behind only London and Cambridge in the number of ‘fast growing businesses’, defined as companies that have grown 20% in either revenue or employees over the last 12 months. It can’t be understated how much Leeds has developed as a great place to do business since the financial crisis a decade ago.

With the digital sector flourishing, it is important that Leeds residents and students are able to benefit from the thousands of jobs being created in the city.

A recent report on digital jobs by Tech North revealed that for every employee working in Northern England’s digital and tech industries, there are 1.4 vacancies, meaning tens of thousands of jobs are going unfilled. In Leeds alone there are more than 600 digital vacancies. Filling these jobs means not just attracting the best and brightest to Leeds and retaining the talent already in the city. If we are to ensure we remain at the forefront of the UK’s digital economy, we also need to make sure people living here have opportunities to train for the jobs of the future.

That’s why this month’s Leeds Digital Job Fair represents such a great opportunity for local employers, tech workers, and for those looking to get a foot in the digital door. Over 50 employers recruiting developers, designers, analysts, marketers, IT specialists, account managers and many more will be on site, along with seminars and guidance on everything from crafting CVs to digital skills. The 2017 Job Fair saw over 500 positions advertised, with many more expected this year.

LeedsBID is supporting the Digital Job Fair because we’ve seen for ourselves the contribution the burgeoning digital scene makes to the local economy. Since creating the UK’s biggest Business Improvement District outside London in 2015, thousands of companies have benefitted from our investment in making Leeds City Centre the best place in the UK to do business. We’ve recruited 13 welcome ambassadors to meet and greet visitors to the city, held innovative networking events such as our gym-based Sweatworking sessions, and funded the first ever Leeds International Festival last year, the second of which is set to take place at the end of April.  Specifically, our Leeds Boost initiative is helping to bring free digital skills training to businesses and employees across Leeds, bridging the digital skills gap and supporting employees to get to grips with the latest digital technologies. Our work brings us into contact with hundreds of businesses across the city centre, and it’s clear employers from all sectors regard digital skills as increasingly important.

Digital jobs aren’t just for coders, analysts and web designers. Sectors with long-standing importance to the Leeds economy such as manufacturing, retail and financial services, increasingly rely on recruiting employees with strong digital skills. Data analysts, in particular, are in high demand across the board.

However, the recent Northern Powerhouse Partnership Skills Report highlighted the growing skills gap across a host of sectors, as automation and rapidly improving technologies change the way we work. Government can certainly do more to ensure students are trained for the Fourth Industrial Revolution we are currently experiencing, but locally, civic and business leaders need to make sure we’re supporting people find the right opportunities to grow a prosperous career.

The Leeds Digital Job Fair 4.0 helps make more tech jobs available to everyone from school leavers, to graduates, to those looking to retrain and upskill later in life. Employers are also increasingly looking to learn from each other, particularly when it comes to recruiting and training the workforce of the future through innovative new apprenticeship schemes and work placements, as well as via the more familiar graduate recruitment process.

With house prices and living costs remaining sky high in London and the South East, skilled workers are increasingly looking for alternative locations with strong job markets and opportunities for career development. Leeds stands in pole position to attract those looking for a great place to do business and is ranked 26th in the world for quality of life by the Sustainable Cities Index, making it the top-ranking UK city. No wonder so many businesses, large and small, are setting up shop here. Now we need to make sure the people of Leeds are introduced to the many exciting opportunities in digital and tech.

The Leeds Digital Jobs Fair 4.0 takes place on 3.30pm-7.30pm on 28 February at the First Direct Arena. To register, visit the Eventbrite page.