Ahh, remember those heady days of '97 with Tony Blairs magic words ringing out “education, education, education”?
Well, I have spent the past two days with the delightful folk at Manchester Digital attending an insightful conference on education and a student recruitment event, TalentDay.
Manchester Digital is the independent trade association the digital sector in the North West of England and one of its aims is to bridge the gap between industry and education.
Fittingly, my personal core objective for 2012 is to explore these issues and in my own small way, attempt to resolve the apparent skills shortage - evident by the small number of high quality applications to our continuous recruitment drives.
Day one of the event was made up of speakers, panels and workshops where we debated the barriers to finding the right talent. Key learning was that we are facing a potential talent crisis as the best students are lured by the big boys to the big smoke and to the far east. As employers, we need to up our game and engage more effectively with the Universities.
Legend that is Dave Edmundson-Bird, principal lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University stressed the financial pressures that todays students are under and encouraged us to offer flexible working patterns to get them into work whilst completing their studies and helping our agencies with some of the pressure in our booming industry. Further, giving guest lectures and offering graduates opportunities to attend events or learning in your workplace not only helps the students, but also the Universities who are under pressure to deliver under ever tighter funding restrictions.
Tony Foggert, CEO of Code Computerlove urged us to aggregate. He emphasised the importance of having a concentration of businesses to enable both industry and education to engage more effectively should not be underestimated. Here pops up Manchester Digital as a handy conduit.
Clearly, the cuts in education are putting the pressure on small business to step in and provide on the job training and skills development and digital is changing – we are now competing with our own clients for our workforce as our clients are taking their own developers and creatives in house.
So what have I learnt? That we need to make more of an effort engaging with the Universities, as we both have the same objective and that we shouldn’t be too narrow when advertising for technical roles, we simply need to look for aptitude and the passion for learning when recruiting, as the right graduates will learn new skills on the job.
On day two, over 1000 students attended the TalentDay made up of 40+ Manchester based agencies on the look out for graduates. (We sneaked in under the guise of Manchester.) It was great to see 3 Drupal shops represented with Access and LiveLink there too.
We were bowled over with the enthusiasm of the students that attended the event and we were rushed off our feet meeting and greeting and trying to support them in their quest for gainful employment. I'm really hopeful for the future talent pool in the North West!
We met some great people and also some potential parter agencies, highlighting what a truly collaborative bunch we are in digital.
If you did meet us, or missed us as the event, we would love to hear from you. Drop us your cv via our online form and let us know what you are looking for.