Digital Skills Festival returns

The largest digital skills event in the North returns this month to help combat the skills shortage in the region

The four-day festival, running from 10-13 February 2015 in various locations across Manchester, has been organised by Manchester Digital to highlight and tackle the issues facing the digital sector, including the shortage of skilled digital professionals available.

By offering tours of local digital businesses, access to the largest recruitment fair in the North and the chance for local students to gain hands-on experience in digital, the event helps to showcase the career opportunities available in the region to encourage emerging talent to enter the industry. 

The Digital Skills conference, which takes place on Tuesday, 10 February 2015 from 10am to 4:30pm at Manchester Town Hall, is aimed at education providers and businesses looking to develop the right talent pool of digital candidates in the region. 

The free conference will cover a range of topics including futureproofing skills for the digital sector and industry support schemes available to tackle the shortage. It will also look at what devolution could mean for the industry. 

The popular Talent Day careers fair is also back again this year helping digital businesses to connect with the next generation of digital talent. Over 60 of the North West’s leading digital and creative companies will be at Manchester Town Hall on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 scouting for the best and brightest young talent to come and work for them. There will be seminars, workshops and panel discussions from digital businesses talking about their placement programmes, graduate initiatives and clinics informing students how to apply and stand the best chance of being selected. 

Students interested in a career in digital will also have the chance to gain hands-on practical experience and learn about coding, digital marketing and UX at the Experience Day, which takes place on 12-13 February 2015. 

In addition, digital companies based in Manchester are being encouraged to take part in the Open Studio Day, which also takes place on 12-13 February 2015, so students can take a tour of local businesses and understand what it’s like working in digital. 

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Following the success of last year’s festival, which helped to place 97 people into jobs, there has already been a huge uptake in businesses signing up to take part. In particular, many are signing up to attend the Talent Day in search of new recruits including Amaze, Barclays, Sage, Space 48 and Rentalcars.com

Jon Woodall, at eCommerce digital marketing agency Space 48, who attended the event last year, said: “Digital Skills Festival is a fantastic opportunity to speak with students that are really keen to break into digital. 

“It can sometimes be difficult to attract new talent in this industry. However by taking part in the Open Studio Day and the Talent Day careers fair last year, we were able to meet so many talented individuals interested in digital, and we received a huge surge of CVs as a result. 

“Space 48 is a growing business so we are looking forward to meeting more young people at the event this year to see what they might be able to bring to the business.” 

Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital, said: “The digital sector in Manchester is continuing to grow and the businesses within our membership are booming. However, we are currently experiencing a digital skills shortage that is so severe businesses are turning away work as they cannot recruit at the rate and levels they need.  

“As such events like this are vital in getting the digital community and education providers together to come up with solutions to help combat the shortage of digital professionals in this part of the country. Encouraging young talent to get involved in the industry and teaching them about the real jobs they could be doing in the future is a positive step forward.

“Manchester has an ambition to become a digital city and in order to achieve this we need a large, highly skilled digital workforce and a pipeline of talent that will leave school, college and university with industry-standard, work-ready, digital skillsets. Digital Skills Festival is a fantastic opportunity for both students and businessesand we can’t wait to see the positive results from the event this year.” 

To find out more about the Digital Skills Festival and how to attend, please visit: https://www.manchesterdigital.com/events/digital-skills-festival

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