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Manchester Digital Skills Festival - The Key Findings

Manchester Digital Conference

This week members of the Oscar team attended Manchester’s Digital Skills Festival organised by Manchester Digital, the largest network for digital and technology businesses in the North, to learn more about what's happening in the North's thriving Tech Community.

The event comprehensively covered many of the issues facing tech organisations – from the gender gap in the sector, to the upcoming Apprenticeship Levy, through to the difficulty of recruiting top digital talent.

One of the key presentations of the Festival was the results of Manchester Digital’s Skills Audit of 250 Tech and Digital companies, which discussed a variety of matters across their business.

Business Growth Chart

83% of businesses reported growth in the last 12 months

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Businesses reported an 88:12 male to female split in technical roles, down from 70:30 in 2015. Half of respondents said their tech teams were 100% men.

London bridge

25% of the region’s talent has been sourced from London. 10% has been sourced from the EU to bolster the local talent pool.

Web Developer

Developers are the most difficult roles to fill due to a clear skills shortage within the area. This was followed by Client-facing roles, Data / Insight & Business Analyst and Digital Marketing positions.

JavaScript and PHP topped the charts for languages for the hardest to find Developers. Swift made its first appearance on the list.

Business identified Developer & Systems and Digital Marketing as the top skill sets which will grow in importance

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51% of businesses have had to inflate salaries, with Developer roles experiencing the biggest rises

Birthday Cake

Career Development / Training and Flexible Working topped the benefits offered to attract and retain talent. Social benefits, such as birthdays off and Friday drinks, climbed up the list and above remote working from 2016.

Software Developer icon

33% of the Contract workers recruited were for Developer roles – down by 5% since 2016.

Addressing the findings, Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital said:

“The results of our annual skills audit once again reflect a thriving industry, but one that is seriously hampered by the ability to recruit at the necessary volume.

“We have been encouraging employers to take an active role in developing their talent pipelines for a number of years and it is great to see an increase in companies taking on apprentices, and running their own graduate schemes. Just a couple of years ago, companies were telling us they didn’t have the time and resource to invest in such schemes, so this is a step in the right direction.

“The solution to the skills shortage is multi-faceted, it needs everybody to play their part. We believe the will is there, but government policy and lack of investment still hinder the implementation and scaling up of the solutions that will really deliver change.”

The full Skills Audit will soon be available via Manchester Digital's website.