The Tech Nation 2016 report recognises Yorkshire biggest cities as technology hubs with strong capabilities in sectors such as IoT, Connected Device, Digital Advertising and Marketing, E-Commerce and Online Gambling. Nonetheless, there are still areas where improvement is needed.
Although Leeds has the highest growth of advertised digital salaries among Tech Nation Clusters (29%) and a great talent pool from local universities, there is still a notable digital skill gap within the region. Access to talent is Yorkshire’s biggest challenge when it comes to digital and tech economy growth. The City College and the Universities need to partner with businesses in the region to ensure that their graduates have the necessary set of skills to support digital business as well as traditional industries on the verge of digital transformation. This year, we are seeing more and more local initiatives focused in this direction, such as the Leeds Digital Job Fair and the Tech North Talent & Skills Summit centred on tech talent and digital skills development across the North of England.
The digital skill gap impacts some of Yorkshire’s “new born” digital sub-sectors, such as fintech. With a combined finance, legal and professional services sector worth £13 billion and over 91,000 skilled employees in banking alone, Leeds City Region is the second most important financial technology centre in England. Leeds has a significant capability to support digital and resilient network infrastructure.
IXLeeds, The Northern Internet exchange and the fibre operators who connect to it, provide a path from the city directly to the rest of the world via non London-dependent fibre routes. Despite of all this, Leeds is not listed as a significant fintech cluster in the Tech Nation Report 2016. We need to acknowledge that we also need knowledge. This means we must reach out not only to London’s thriving fintech community, but also to other centres of fintech expertise, such as Talinn, Estonia.
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