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Call for digital businesses in Greater Manchester to help tackle skills shortage

15th August 2019

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Greater Manchester’s digital and creative sector will require at least 22,000 additional roles by 2035 in order to sustain itself, according to Manchester Digital, which is urging businesses in Greater Manchester to play their part in futureproofing the sector.

The not-for-profit trade body for digital and technology businesses across Greater Manchester is asking businesses to help bridge the digital skills gap by signing up as a Digital Futures Ambassador, in a programme that is inspiring more young people across Greater Manchester to pursue a digital career and support educators to deliver relevant curriculum and careers guidance.

Since the campaign launched earlier this year, over 100 businesses have pledged their support, including Moneysupermarket.com, On the Beach, Manchester City Football Club and PwC. Manchester Digital aims to have a total of 250 businesses on board by May 2020, through the GMCA-supported initiative.

Despite the campaign’s early success, a significant proportion of supporters are from city centre based tech businesses, meaning young talent from local authority areas is at risk of slipping through the net before being equipped with the knowledge and skills to consider a digital career.

Emma Grant, talent and skills manager at Manchester Digital, said: “We are seeing a growing number of innovative start-ups as well as seasoned tech players taking advantage of the lower operating costs and available space in Greater Manchester’s many boroughs, and it’s crucial we continue to build on and foster this growth if the region is to compete in the global technology space.

“Of course, talent is central to making this possible. In order for this growth to be achievable and sustainable, we need help from progressive, forward-thinking local businesses in the GM boroughs who are keen to work with us as Digital Futures Ambassadors to build lasting, meaningful relationships between industry and education and help futureproof the tech talent pipeline locally.

“This way, not only will we be tapping into a wider and more diverse pool of local tech talent, we’ll also be raising awareness that the whole of GM is a great place to both be a tech business and have a credible career in technology.”

The Digital Futures initiative has been upscaled following a growing and worrying trend in Manchester Digital’s Skills Audit which in 2019 revealed that almost a third of digital businesses in the region had turned work away over the past year as a result of not being able to find the right talent to fulfil it.

Businesses can help in a number of ways including: working with local schools to bring the computer science curriculum to life; providing inspiring experience days or job shadowing opportunities in the workplace; talking to educators about the diversity of job roles in tech, and knowledge sharing through mini masterclasses and workshops.

Grant continued: “Employers in our sector have the ability to help change a young person’s life through unlocking their digital potential. By working as a community, through Digital Futures, we can have a greater impact and reach more schools to ensure educators can help young people and their parents make informed decisions about the digital education and career pathways available to them right on their doorstep.

“So, if you’re a business in Greater Manchester, big or small, working in or with technology in any way, help us create and enable digital futures for young people by getting involved and supporting the work we’re doing.”

To find out more about the programme and how you can get involved, or sign up for free, please visit https://www.manchesterdigital.com/become-digital-futures-ambassador or join the conversation on social media by following @McrDig and using the hashtags #DigitalFutures and #GMDigitalSkills

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