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The Northern Digital Skills Gap

Written by Daniel
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Tech North & EY recently revealed a report into the realities of the digital skills gap up north. In this episode of ‘Industry Spotlight’ Lee, Chris & Jamie discuss some of the key takeaways from the report. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest episodes of ‘Industry Spotlight’.

See below for a full video transcription.



Lee: Okay, so the final piece we’re going to talk about is the Northern Digital Skills Gap, and the shortage of talent, versus the amount of tech jobs that are available. Big players such as Sky seem to be able to just pay as much as they want for talent, making it really difficult for other companies that have got that requirement to get the talent, to then grow. So, there are initiatives that have been put in place to try and solve that…

Jamie: Well, Sky themselves have got an initiative, haven’t they, as such, they keep plugging this idea that they’ve got sort of a digital campus, or whatever they’re calling it. I think you get this a lot with big players now. No matter how much money they’ve got it still seems they’re short of talent, as they like to put it all the time.

Chris: Yeah. I think they’re under pressure aren’t they, from government bodies as well to start being more proactive in those kind of areas, stuff like that. I think they’re trying to make it a core learning and course within school as well, now to make sure that people are aware of the digital ecosystem. Because they only still get taught the stuff that we probably got taught in school.

Jamie: They do programming now, at like 12-years-old, don’t they, in some schools?

Lee: That’s new though.

Jamie: Yeah, it is.

Lee: I think the speed in which technology has moved along has just left the education system completely behind. They can’t put a curriculum together on something that they probably don’t understand.

Chris: It’s impossible to teach, really. And there’s not even enough expertise out there to go in and teach that to all the schools around the UK, I guess.

Lee: Apprenticeships. That’s what should happen.

Jamie: That’s another problem with this “talent” word. People are expecting really well qualified people to be able to walk in to these jobs. It seems like people like Sky are a bit shy of employing lesser experienced people into the roles, they just want to get the mega-experienced people obviously, of which there are few. So then they flipped it on its head and it’s like, “All right, well, let’s just employ people with no experience, then we’ll just train them in these campus things,”. Which is obviously a government-backed initiative that all these companies are doing, isn’t it?

Chris: Yeah.

Lee: That creates an issue in itself, though, because that just overprices everybody. You get someone then that will go to Sky for two years that will then come for a job at Flaunt Digital wanting 15 grand more than they’re worth based on their experience. It’s a vicious circle.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I think apprenticeships is a really good route for this, though. I think not enough digital-based businesses take advantage of it, because this is something that kids are gonna be interested in, young people are going to be interested in, why not get them in and train them up and get them into it straight away?

Jamie: Yup.

Lee: I agree.

Jamie: I’m sure it will sort itself out once the economy comes around in however many years. Like you say if they’re teaching 12-year-olds how to program now, when, you know, in 12 years’ time or whatever when their career’s picked up a bit, I’m sure there will be, loads of tech people.

Chris: That’s the trouble though like you say, it moves at such a speed that how do you keep up with it? How do you, for example, teach somebody, you know, the basics of SEO or PPC, and, you know, like we were saying on last week’s episode about voice search and things like that, it’s gonna be a completely different ballgame by the time they’re potentially ready to enter…

Jamie: Yeah. And then, I mean, in 12 years-time when everyone’s a programmer we won’t have any sparkies. It’s a fine line there. It’s tough. I mean, we’re not in the education game, are we? I guess it’s a pretty fine line when you’re changing curriculums, trying not to screw the economy.

Lee: Ending on a positive note, though, it’s nice to see that there’s a massive amount of tech jobs up north as opposed to down south.

Jamie: Yep.

Lee: Just shows Leeds, I think Leeds, Manchester, are all becoming digital hubs, all bringing talent from down south now, so, good for the region.

Jamie: Big players know they can pay smaller salaries now as well, which is one of the reasons why Sky are up here now. Move the London stuff to Leeds. God knows how much money they saved on wages.

Chris: It’s a good incentive for people to get into it though, because doesn’t it pay, digital jobs pay something like 42% more than the average salary in the UK? So it’s a massive incentive for people to get into it. I think that statistic only really applies for the north, but still an encouraging route if you’re considering it.

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