Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Digital Workforce Should Be at the Heart of New Northern Powerhouse

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Digital Workforce Should Be at the Heart of New Northern Powerhouse

Article excerpt

BUILDING a skilled technology workforce in the north west has been identified as the key to unlocking the potential of the Northern Powerhouse, according to several senior digital leaders who spoke at Advanced's regional headquarters on Booths Park in Knutsford.

The digital sector in the UK is growing at a faster rate than in any other G20 economy, yet companies in the north west are struggling to recruit employees with the skills required to keep up. During the open discussion, experts shared ideas on how to close the well-documented north-south digital divide, along with the initiatives that will deliver a technology workforce that is both skilled and diverse.

These included TECHUK's Returners Hub, which is a one-stop shop for people looking to return to the tech sector and for tech companies interested in starting their own returners programme. Tech North's Northern Voices - a speaker training programme to address the gender or regional imbalances at conferences and media appearances - was also named as an initiative that could deliver, along with Manchester Metropolitan University's Digital Innovation. The university's project gives students and staff access to emerging technologies, while also creating opportunities for students to work with companies on "live" and industry-relevant projects. Finally, Manchester Digital's Diversity Toolkit was also identified - the resource for digital and tech businesses helps them attract and retain a diverse workforce.

The discussion followed on from the official opening of the regional hub for IT software and services company, Advanced. The newly refurbished offices are now home to more than 150 employees and will accommodate digital apprentices in the future too. Advanced has npledged to recruit 60-70 apprentices in the UK each year, with a focus on providing technical training to help address the digital skills gap and improve career prospects in the north. …

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