Digital Skills Festival

Manchester Digital’s (@McrDig) annual Digital Skills Festival returns next month to assess the impact Brexit and the pandemic have had on the tech sector and its working practices. It will also connect Northern talent with some of Greater Manchester’s biggest tech employers, as many continue to grow and recruit.

The five-day online event includes the UK’s largest digital skills careers fair, Talent Day, which connects 1500 students from schools, colleges and universities across the region, plus anyone else interested in a career in digital or technology, with respected industry professionals and employers, to highlight opportunities across the sector.

While the UK has been hit by mass job losses in recent months, a report last month highlighted that one in 10 job vacancies in the UK are now in tech roles. Tech Nation also reported in November that Manchester is the fastest-growing​ tech hub in Europe, with VC investment reaching $687.6m in 2019, up from $199.1m in 2018 – signalling continued growth.

The Digital Skills Festival will launch on Monday 8 February, where the findings from the 2021 Digital Skills Audit will be revealed. The audit, run in partnership with the Institute of Coding, will take a national view of the impact of COVID on growth and workplaces, as well as taking a deeper dive into the most in demand tech roles and the ongoing skills shortage.

Wednesday 10 February welcomes the festival’s flagship event, Talent Day, where up to 40 of the region’s most innovative digital, tech and creative employers, including Auto Trader, Bentley, musicMagpie and the ICO, will gather online in search of the best talent, offering advice to students on how to break into the industry. Upwards of 250 jobs, placements and internships will be on offer throughout the day in fields including development, data, security, design, project management, digital marketing, UX and more.

Commenting on this, Katie Gallagher, Managing Director at Manchester Digital, said:

“The pandemic has changed the way we do business and the impact on some industries will be permanent. However, as many businesses look to digitize and shift operations online, and remote working becomes more prominent, this has opened up new opportunities for many parts of the tech industry. While there’s no doubt the picture is nuanced and not the case for every digital and tech business, in general, there’s a still strong demand for suitable people to fill open roles – both technical and non-technical. 

“This means we’re seeing plenty of prospects for those looking to start a career in the sector, or perhaps move into the sector from industries that have been badly hit by the pandemic. These opportunities will be showcased at Talent Day – where we’ll share routes into the tech industry for people, whether they’ve worked in it previously or not.”

Sarah Brooks-Pearce, Future Talent Manager at Auto Trader, added:

“The challenges of COVID continue into 2021. The impact on young people’s education and employment is significant, and the need to invest and inspire new entrants from the broadest communities into the tech world continues. The skills and diversity challenges that we see currently will only grow if the commitment to invest in skills, educational outreach and entry careers routes pause.

“Supporting initiatives like the Talent Day and Digital Her/Digital Futures with Manchester Digital and continuing to welcome our Early Careers intakes, therefore remains essential to us. We’re delighted to share our latest graduate and apprenticeship opportunities on Talent Day and host a student experience day. And we cannot wait to welcome our new intakes this year!”

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