HELEN TO LEAD DIGITAL TALENT ENGINE TEAM

DYNAMO, the region’s tech champion, has appointed an experienced project lead to jumpstart a new Digital Talent Engine for the region.

Helen Tong, who has led marketing and communications teams across a range of sectors, will lead the project, part of the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s £12m Digital Growth and Innovation Programme designed to grow the region’s tech sector.

The programme aims to create hundreds of jobs in a ‘digital ecosystem’ of mutually supportive tech businesses and organisations. In addition to the £12m Programme, NCTA has allocated a further £7m for a 5G and a Future Connectivity Fund.

The plans include providing £5m to support start-ups and unlock the potential of digital and tech businesses, working with partners including Dynamo and Innovation SuperNetwork.

Helen is the first of several recruits: “Now I’m in post we’re looking for a project manager; an equality, diversity and inclusion lead and someone to work with us around compliance,” she explained.

“We’ve also started the process of appointing a digital agency to create our new flagship website and jobs portal. This is a vitally important aspect of what we’ll be doing over the next few years – in essence we want to create a one-stop shop for employers, employees and training providers.

“It will be an easy-to-use site to help people navigate their path into the tech sector by showcasing roles that fit their skills and interests, live jobs that are available, and how and where to get training if they need it. We will also have a focus on matching job seekers with mentors from within the industry who offer advice and support.

“From an employers’ point of view our jobs portal will be a talent pipeline with the right people with the right skills; while we hope to link schools, colleges and universities with employers and employees through apprenticeships and through helping to shape relevant qualifications.”

Dynamo’s Digital Talent Engine has five main ambitions:

  • To create a digital platform and digital assets to help prospective job candidates better understand digital career pathways and find opportunities within the regional tech sector that match their skills;
  • To deliver outreach campaigns and events to reach target audiences;
  • To establish a high-profile regional hiring portal for digital roles, supporting businesses in the region to attract diverse applicants to apply;
  • Work with employers and training providers and educational organisations to develop new training programmes;
  • Nurture early-career and new-to-digital talent who take up roles by creating a stronger community and network for them.

The programme is being supported through £380,000 of NCTA funding over three years, a figure which will be match funded through sponsorship and support from partners and stakeholders.

Dynamo Director Cate Kalson explained: “Our Digital Talent Engine will inspire and encourage people to get into digital and technology careers. We know many people outside of the industry do not understand the breadth of opportunities available and consider roles in tech to be out of their reach. The Digital Talent Engine will help change this.

“We’re delighted to welcome Helen to the Dynamo team and under her leadership the Digital Talent Engine will help fill the 4,000 job vacancies in the regional tech sector, turning those vacancies into jobs that support the ongoing success of businesses across the region.

“Helen and the Talent Engine project will work with the Dynamo industry clusters to understand the core talent needs from employers within each cluster and ensure that these are addressed within the development of the Talent Engine project. For example, we can envisage an outreach event focused on attracting people into digital roles within the NHS.”

Helen was born in Zambia and arrived in the north east in the mid 1980s when her parents moved here for work. She completed a marketing degree at Northumbria University and later a professional certificate in management from the Open University.

Her senior roles have included Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Keepmoat Homes and Strategic Marketing Consultant at Avant Homes. She was previously regional marketing manager at The Open University and a senior account manager at Robson Brown and NP Group (now IGNIFI).

For the last three years Helen has also run her own strategic marketing consultancy.

Dynamo North East is a business-led organisation with the core mission of ‘Growing the north east tech economy through collaboration, innovation, skills and noise.’ With more than 160 members, it is made up of IT organisations, large corporate employers in the region, consultants, technology hubs, education providers, local government and suppliers to the industry.

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