North East Digital Skills Summit sees over 650 hours of support to promote digital skills

On 20th June 2017 over 100 industry leaders, educators and policy makers attended the Digital Skills Summit at the Sunderland Software Centre with the purpose of tackling the digital skills problem head on.

The event saw speakers from the Depart of Culture Media and Sport, the National University of Singapore, the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and a panel of local SMEs discussed what needs to be done to fill the 3,000 plus vacancies in the North East Digital sector. With an app developed specifically for the event, the audience offered 686 hours of their time to assist the myriad of regional programmes aimed at supporting new entrants to the industry.

Billy Webber, Chief Operating Officer of Sunderland Software City, said: “We established this event to call-to-action the digital industry. Unfortunately there has been a lot of talking about solving the digital skills problem in the region but little coordinated activity”

“We hoped prior to the event to get business people to commit 200 hours of their support but this was surpassed before lunch-time. The fact that we had 686 hours committed in one day is an amazing reaction from everyone who attended the event”

Sunderland Software City will now work in collaboration with organisations such as Campus North and Digital Union to ensure that these hours will be delivered across a number of programmes including Go Reboot, Tech for Life and Code Club.

Another outcome of the event was for the North East to push for a Digital Skills Partnership – a concept announced in the Government’s recent Digital Strategy. Ty Goddard, from EdTech UK and co-host at yesterday’s event, said:

“The North East is the perfect place to develop a Digital Skills Partnership, indeed the public, private and educational sector in the region have already aligned around an initiative they are calling a ‘Digital Challenge Zone’.”

“The Digital Challenge Zone takes all the ingredients required to drive the skills agenda forward to another level: industry wishing to participate, educators responding quickly to need and the public sector supporting prioritising the sector.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director from the North East LEP said: “We are delighted in the response from industry at the Digital Skills Summit, we look forward to working with Sunderland Software City and other regional partners to quickly develop the Digital Challenge Zone.”

For those businesses wanted to get more involved, time to support education initiatives can be pledged via the Digital Skills Summit app available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

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