Most people heading up companies or hiring for digital jobs, no matter where they are, will claim that finding ‘talent ’ – that’s people to fill jobs, to you and me – is among their top concerns.
And the latest Tech Nation report from Tech City UK and Tech North yet again bears that feeling out.
And in many ways, it’s no surprise. The sector is creating new and specialised jobs across the UK at twice the rate of the wider economy.
But, in many other ways, it’s still a real shocker.
Yes, there are not only lots of jobs on offer right now, but there are lots of well-paid jobs out there in our industry.
Leeds and Newcastle are joint 4th in the UK for average digital salary at £50,000, beating even Manchester.
Measuring salary versus house prices, seven of the most affordable places to do digital jobs are in the North. Topping the list is Newcastle, with Sunderland, Hull, Liverpool, Sheffield, Middlesbrough and Leeds all in the top 10.
And the quality of life reported by survey respondents is far higher across most northern tech clusters than in our great, expensive capital. Yet again, Newcastle sounds like the best place to be, followed by Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield.
What this all means is that you could quite easily afford to buy a house ‘Up North’ with your flash salary from your cool digital job – and feel happy while you’re doing it.
Unfortunately, the large majority of people surveyed for the report, many working in our key Northern cities, did not rate the supply of local ‘talent’ as (even) ‘good’. Which is clearly not good.
And that means that right now, more than 10 percent of digital jobs across the UK are being done by someone from outside the UK.
This fact has, until recently, been nothing that most people would bat an eyelid about. But with ongoing uncertainty for people who’ve come from around the world to build their lives here in the UK, we may be facing an even greater shortage of ‘talent’ than ever before.
It’s time to take action
So, if ‘talent’ is your biggest problem – and it’s set to become an even greater challenge – come and join a conversation with everyone with a stake in this from across the North, from learners to parents, policymakers to employers, even recruiters, to do something about it.
As well as hearing the latest data on this issue, stories from new hires at big firms, coding bootcamp success stories and innovators doing things differently, you’ll get to add your expertise to a Northern Digital Jobs Strategy to be presented to government.
New York is a shining example of place-based collaboration from the city itself, its employers (think everyone from Kickstarter to JPMorgan), local training providers and regular citizens, to deliver people at scale to do digital jobs.
In the latest CITIES global innovation and entrepreneurship analysis, New York beat even London to be named Nesta’s most innovative city, precisely because of its commitment to skills.
According to John Gibson, study co-author and director of government innovation at Nesta, London lost out to New York for two reasons.
“It doesn’t have an innovation team in City Hall or a chief technology officer, as many North American cities do. Also, where London put in £1.5m into digital skills education, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio committed $70m [£45m],” Gibson told Wired magazine earlier this year.
Right now, Northern cities don’t yet get a look into the top 40 cities list from across the world.
That’s what the Digital Jobs Action Summit, and the Northern Digital Jobs Strategy that will follow, aim to do something about, through regional collaboration.
With good salaries, great jobs, jump-for-joy house prices and awesome quality of life, the North has things that many other cities across the world simply cannot offer.
All we need now is to work together under the Northern Powerhouse banner to make sure everyone, wherever they are in the world, but especially on our doorsteps, knows that.
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