Combat the skills shortage and attend The Digital Skills Festival in Manchester

The Digital Skills conference, which takes place on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 from 10am to 430pm at Manchester Town Hall, is aimed at businesses looking to develop the right talent pool of digital candidates in the region. 

The mayor of Salford, Ian Stewart, is set to open the conference that will cover a range of topics including futureproofing skills for the digital sector and industry support schemes available to tackle the shortage. It will also look at what devolution could mean for the industry.

Tony Foggett, chair of Manchester Digital, will be revealing the results of its digital skills audit at the beginning of the conference. This year’s audit will follow the findings from the 2014 audit that discovered 32 per cent of digital organisations in the North West region were forced to refuse work in 2013, due to a serious lack of resource. 

Tony will disclose what digital businesses in the North West have experienced over the past 12 months, and whether the position of digital in this region has altered. 

Following the digital skills audit results, managing director of Manchester Digital, Katie Gallagher will head up the ‘Conflict in the Curriculum’ panel to discuss the state of education, asking what is still to change in the curriculum’s approach to vocational paths and meeting the digital industries needs.

Meanwhile, Beth Hewitt from the University of Salford will lead the ‘Developing the Ecosystem’ session, alongside Sarah Brooks Pearce from AutoTrader. The panel will discuss the issues that small businesses face when competing against larger companies for new talent in such a saturated market. It will look at what education and businesses should be doing to develop the local ecosystem.

Later the conference will see Martin Bryant, editor-in-chief at The Next Web, chair the ‘Devo Manc and Global Success’ panel alongside Simon Swan from Hiring Hub, Dave Bird from Manchester Metropolitan University and Adele Reynolds from New Economy. 

The team will debate whether enough is being done to ensure the talent entering digital businesses is good enough and what is actually needed. The panel also asks whether devolution and local control of skills can continue to be a success and boost Manchester’s reputation as a digital city. 

The final panel of the day will discuss issues of gender equality in digital with Liz Clark, CEO of Dream Agility, leading the panel. The speakers will talk about the steps the industry has taken to encourage women to take up a career in digital, and how women can help fill the skills gap being experienced at the moment. 

Lastly, attendees will hear from Stuart McRae from IBM’s Social Business Evangelist, who will look into what is in store for learning and education in terms of digital in ‘A glimpse into the future’.

Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital, said: “The digital sector in Manchester is continuing to grow and the businesses within our membership are booming. However, we are currently experiencing a digital skills shortage that is so severe businesses are turning away work as they cannot recruit at the rate and levels they need.  

“As such events like this are vital in getting the digital community and education providers together to come up with solutions to help combat the shortage of digital professionals in this part of the country.

“Digital Skills Festival is a fantastic opportunity for both students and businesses and we can’t wait to see the positive results from the event this year.”

Digital businesses of all sizes and education providers are encouraged to attend the conference to take part in discussions about the issues shaping them and the industry at the moment. 

To register for the event or to find out more information please visit: www.manchesterdigital.com/events/digital-skills-festival 

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