Promotion crucial to boosting Liverpool's tech scene
Liverpool should be shouting about its tech credentials to boost its burgeoning digital scene.
That is the view of digital entrepreneurs Paul Corcoran and James Chapman.
Corcoran, MD of Baltic Triangle-based agency Agent, says Liverpool has “picked up the gauntlet and is running with the digital revolution in the fields of design, film, gaming and web development”.
“Promotion is key – we need to be positioning the city region as THE place to access the plethora of talent that reside here,” he told BusinessCloud.
“We need to better communicating the fantastic assets and talent pool that we enjoy here in a real, right and relevant way.”
Chapman is COO of Red Ninja, a tech firm which creates disruptive innovation across the healthcare, smart cities and social care sectors.
He said: “Liverpool needs to work together to raise its brand as a tech leader. It also needs to bring more investment into the city and create new routes into the digital workplace for emerging talent at every level."
In 2014, Corcoran founded the pioneering Agent Academy CIC which helps young people start careers within the creative and digital industries.
To date, 90 per cent of its graduates are now in employment, generating over £1 million worth of salaries since inception.
“The world around us is changing. Whether we have been as fast as other cities in rising to the digital challenge is one for debate,” he said.
“However, we should be looking forward as to how we as a city region can really capitalise on the opportunities that the revolution will bring for us all.”
The skills gap is beginning to bite in Liverpool.
Chapman said: “There is a good core nucleus of digital companies – both start-ups and SMEs – but more needs to be done to make Liverpool an attractive option for digital talent. “Companies struggle to find the right people as places like Manchester, London and overseas – Berlin, for example – seem to draw in the best people.
"We definitely struggle to find the right match of talent, skills and suitability. For every good hire, it seems there are two or three that don't live up to expectations.
“Finding the right people who offer a balance across those three areas is really tough."
Rather than pay expensive recruitment fees to circumvent the skills gap, a group of companies in the city have joined forces to tackle it head-on through the 10-week Catalyst programme.
Aimed at 18-30-year-olds hoping to get their foot in the door of the digital industry and those already in work seeking to brush up on their skills, around 40 companies have signed up to the programme with most holding workshops, talks and providing studio tours.
The initiative is the brainchild of entrepreneur Robyn Dooley, who founded the Innovators Hub after leaving her college course in fashion at the age of 17.
The initial programme has been so successful it now looks certain to be repeated and could be rolled out across other cities facing a similar skills gap problem.
At ‘Tackling Liverpool's digital skills gap’, BusinessCloud will hear from some of the driving forces behind the Catalyst programme and see if the model could be used elsewhere.