BBC faces same war on digital talent
The BBC is not immune to the challenges of finding talented recruits, according to a senior executive.
When the BBC moved to MediaCityUK in 2011 the organisation was accused of not employing enough local people, especially in and around Salford.
As the Beeb’s workforce at Salford Quays has grown to 3,000 people it has been accused of sucking up digital talent and driving up wage inflation – something it categorically denies.
Christine Bellamy is the head of product at BBC Education and is responsible for online education and BBC Food content, which attract six million users ever week.
The BBC recently announced they would be creating 200 new digital jobs in BBC North but Bellamy said they faced the same recruitment challenge as other employers.
“As far as talent goes we have the same problem as everybody else,” she explained. “We’re six years in but we’re not the first in market as the person that everybody wants to work for. We might be in TV but we’re not in digital.
“We lose great people. We’re a bit like a football team. We have that talent but they move on because we don’t pay the most. People will come and go.
“We always need to do more but we do have the same challenges as everyone in the Greater Manchester community. We need more talent.”
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Bellamy took part in a recent digital summit called by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and recalled the negative headlines around the BBC’s move to MediaCityUK in 2011, including not employing enough local residents and a number of senior executives refusing to relocate themselves to the north.
“In the first year about one third of staff came from the south,” recalled Bellamy, herself a long-term resident of the North West.
“About a third of people came from the local area and about a third came from the rest of the UK. If you look at it now it’s really changed.
“If you walk around there now you’ll hear a lot of northern voices, people who were born and bred in this area. As a mature business, six years in, we are going back to the community of Manchester.
“It’s been a brilliant move for us. We’ve done everything to tie in with the businesses around us but we always need to do more.”
The BBC employs 3,000 people in MediaCity, with the largest slice of 800 working in the digital sector.
“Digital is enormous for the BBC and it’s growing,” she said. “You’ve seen what’s happened with iPlayer in the last few years. It’s about a personalised experience with all our products. The next few years are quite critical.
“We had a speech from our director general and it’s all about transformation and it’s all now about digital.”