The North’s biggest digital skills festival returns to Manchester

The Digital Skills conference and festival returns to Manchester next month and will take place over various city locations, 14-17 February.

The four-day event is designed to offer support to digital businesses and organisations from across the North, as well as providing valuable hands-on experience to students.

Organised by independent digital trade association, Manchester Digital, the conference element takes place on Day 1 and will promote Manchester as a thriving digital hub and help the region’s businesses recruit and retain talent.

The conference, in Manchester Town Hall, will focus on what colleges and universities should be doing to ensure a bigger talent pool is available for the digital sector.

A Talent Day, which takes place on 15 February also at Manchester Town Hall, will provide an opportunity for students and digital workers to get an insight into the sector and view some of the career opportunities available.

In 2016 more than 1,200 students attended the event.

There will also be a number of experience days designed to equip students with the skills to build websites, write code and make games.

The conference will also serve as a platform for the release of the organisers’ 2017 ‘Digital Skills Audit’ results. The new data follows on from last year’s survey, which found that nearly two in five digital businesses based in the North had turned away work due to a lack of resources.

The 2016 audit also found:

– 65% of businesses had struggled to fill developer-based roles in the last year

– 44% of businesses had been forced to inflate salaries to compete for the best talent

Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital, said: “The North West has a thriving and talented digital industry, but it has now reached the point where demand is far outstripping the supply of services.

“Our annual skills audit has already highlighted the genuine struggle companies face in filling the growing number of vacancies, and it is essential we expand the talent pool as much as possible to ensure the digital sector continues its upward trajectory.

“This skills conference is an important part of that drive, and has grown steadily since we first launched the event. It serves not only as a proven forum for ideas and development, but is also an effective platform for uncovering the newest digital talent around and making sure they want to stay in the North West.”

AutoTrader, Co-op and CDL are the headline sponsors of this year’s conference.

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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