Manchester’s Digital Skills Festival takes place this week, bringing together the region’s tech employers together with the talent of tomorrow, along with new Digital Her Day, Conference Day and a business leaders’ Round Table.

The festival, which is run by trade body Manchester Digital, also sees the launch of the new Skills Snapshot report, which details in-depth conversations with Manchester Digital members about the future of the tech sector, what digital skills are needed, as well as diversity and inclusion.

This year also sees the Talent Day (Weds, February 7) move to the iconic Bridgewater Hall to accommodate even more employers and job-seekers. Around 2,000 graduates, students and career changers will come along to meet 40 of the region’s top employers looking for the next generation of tech talent.

Katie Gallagher OBE, managing director of Manchester Digital, said: “The Greater Manchester tech ecosystem continues to go from strength to strength, and has shown impressive resilience, even though we have been through a number of tough economic years.

“We’re bringing together business leaders, stakeholders, education establishments and regional leaders to showcase and discuss the future of digital skills and what they have to offer our communities and young people.

“Just recently Manchester has been named by Beauhurst as the second top startup hub (outside London), ranking just after Edinburgh, with 691 active high growth companies, employing a workforce of over 45,000 people.

“Although we are in a great position, there is still plenty of work to do to ensure that we continue to support the sector with the workforce and skills that it needs.”

This year’s Conference Day (Monday, February 5) for business leaders and stakeholders, sold out well in advance of the event, and will see the official launch of the Skills Snapshot report, as well as keynote speeches and panel events around the future of tech skills.

Manchester Digital is also co-hosting a business Round Table with Startup Coalition, and has invited No 10 Business Advisor Franck Petitgas to sit down with startups, founders and VCs to lay out the challenges and opportunities of regional founders.

Rob Sugden, managing director at Ecom, will deliver the keynote speech where he will reflect on recent turbulent years to understand the current tech recruitment, and share his forecasts for the future. Ethics and innovation within AI will be the focus on a panel discussion, chaired by Lily Stanton, principal consultants at AtkinsRéalis.

Conference Day will also see a spotlight on apprenticeships, mentoring and wellbeing in the new hybrid world of work. Andrew Hirst, president at Modern English, will wrap up the day’s talks with an exploration of augmented reality and the role it can play in knowledge retention across education, culture and consumer behaviour, followed by interactive demonstrations.

This year’s festival also sees the launch of a new Digital Her Day (Thurs, Feb 8), bringing together women and their allies from across the industry for a day dedicated to women in tech. There will be inspiring talks, insightful panel discussions and interactive workshops designed to support women to thrive in this sector where they remain a minority, as well as an opportunity to connect, socialise and network. Digital Her is a programme to support women in the tech industry which was launched by Manchester Digital in 2018.

Other highlights of the festival include Discover Digital Apprenticeships Day, as part of National Apprentice Week, on Tuesday, February 6 and Professional Development Day on Friday, February 9.

Independent membership organisation Manchester Digital is at the forefront of supporting and growing the regional tech economy, with 500 members. The organisation runs a number of programmes for apprentices, women in tech, as well as running regular industry events, and working alongside government and MPs to help shape policy to grow the tech industry.


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