The North of England’s biggest Digital Skills Festival returns next month to showcase the best of the digital industry.

Held at various locations across Manchester, the four-day event offers support to businesses and organisations, and provides valuable hands-on experience to students.

Organised by independent digital trade association, Manchester Digital, the four-day event runs from February 14 to February 17 at various locations throughout the city.

The Digital Skills Conference will take place on the first day of the event, from 10am to 4.30pm at Manchester Town Hall.

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This year the focus will be on what colleges and universities should be doing to ensure a large and diverse talent pool is available for the digital sector.

The Talent Day, which takes place on February 15 from 11.30am to 3pm at Manchester Town Hall, will provide an opportunity for students and digital workers to get an insight into the sector, view some of the career opportunities available, and network with innovative businesses in the region.

In 2016 more than 1,200 students attended the event looking for opportunities in development, design, project management, digital marketing and UX – among other career options.

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

The conference will also serve as a platform for the release of the organisation’s 2017 ‘Digital Skills Audit’ results, following 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.

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The 2016 audit also found 65 per cent of businesses had struggled to fill developer based roles in the last year, and 44 per cent 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.