Becoming Leaders in the Digital Revolution

By Nick Middleton

On the 22nd October, Nick was invited to welcome guests at the Insider Yorkshire Digital Breakfast 2013 – his welcome speech has been summarised below. Alternatively you can watch his presentation on our YouTube Channel:

What does digital mean to us? We find it can now be applied to mean so many things…

Digital at its core is about technology and communication, although typically we are talking about online technology or services. As an IT specialist recruitment company it has been fascinating to see how the terminology has changed and perhaps more so, see the growing types of roles that fall under this category. While in the early days we were typically called upon to help companies find people who could write the code and design the look of a website or application, we are now asked to find a broader range of individuals with different specialisms: psychologists who understand how people think and interact with technology; marketers who know how to use social media channels to engage their target audience; or even, as some organisations are beginning to consider, care professionals. The thinking behind this is that having a natural degree of empathy to help understand how a customer feels and designing a digital channel to offer the best customer journey is becoming as important, if not more so than understanding the technology itself. All in all, it’s a really interesting time.

As many organisations continue to build their digital capability there is going to be an increasing demand for more people to enter this sector as well as more business opportunities for the growing number of specialty companies providing digital related services.

Yorkshire already has an enviable capability in the digital sector with many leading and comparatively large digital focused business having offices in and around the city of Leeds – in fact it is currently the largest digital sector in the UK outside of London.

The biggest challenge we see to the digital sector in Leeds, and in most other regions, is the availability of the skills that are increasingly in demand. We have great local universities and colleges offering a broad array of digital related courses and the attraction of a vibrant city to draw people to the region at pre and post-study age. But we have seen a concerning lack of investment in raw talent over the last five years of tougher business conditions. This is because it is perceived the cost and risk of training someone inexperienced into a role is far higher than hiring someone that can already do it. In recruitment we now have a much more capable range of tools available to us to identify a candidate’s attributes and behaviours but most recruitment is still based on a CV and demonstration that someone has performed similar jobs in the past.

I think it is critical that we create more opportunities to train people in the skills required and this should include, in equal measure, people at the beginning of the career as well as opportunities for those moving into the digital sector. I deeply believe the sector will be at the risk of stagnating unless this happens, and it is through collective investment across the sector that we will succeed in the digital revolution.

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