IGNITION: TALENT ENGINE PLATFORM IS UP AND RUNNING

AN ONLINE platform linking employers, education providers and prospective employees has been launched to recruit thousands more into the thriving regional tech sector.

Dynamo, the region’s tech champion, launched the Tech Talent Engine portal at a well-attended event at The Core in Newcastle city centre.

The project is part of the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s (NTCA) £12m Digital Growth and Innovation Programme designed to grow the region’s tech sector. The programme aims to create jobs hundreds of jobs in a ‘digital ecosystem’ of mutually supportive tech businesses and organisations.

The Tech Talent Engine has been supported by £380,000 of investment over three years from NTCA, and contributions from key sponsors and supporters that include Opencast, Mediaworks, tombola and University of Newcastle.

The ambition of the Engine is to link colleges, universities and private education providers with employers and employees. To achieve its objective of creating and fulfilling digital roles, the Tech Talent Engine will help:

  • Employers to offer more training-oriented entry-point roles;
  • Candidates to build their understanding of roles available and how their skills and interests align;
  • Academic and training organisations to enable and support the building of relevant skills and matching of candidates to jobs

The Tech Talent Engine team is led by Jill McKinney, Head of Skills at Sunderland Software City and a Director at Dynamo. Jill welcomed more than 70 attendees to the launch of the Tech Talent Engine platform and introduced Dr David Dunn, CEO of Dynamo.

David talked about the ambition of the NTCA’s digital programme, which he said had four priorities: creating more tech businesses; growing existing tech businesses; changing the focus from job creation to talent creation, and improving the region’s digital infrastructure.

Dynamo has been working with Newcastle-headquartered digital marketing agency Mediaworks to create the online platform.

Mediaworks’ Group Strategy Director Andy Blenkinsop explained the different stages of the eight-month process and gave a demonstration of how the new portal works.

Lorna Madden, Head of Talent Engagement at Opencast, then described the advantages of the platform from an employers’ point of view.

“We’re a company that has experienced hyper-growth over the last two years, taking on 50-60 new employees a month. So clearly recruitment is a priority for us and we’ve been looking at innovative, creative and non-traditional recruitment methods.

“The Tech Talent Engine can certainly help us and other tech companies and that’s why we’ve been involved in its development.

“It’s all about collaboration and for it to work we need to work together. We also need more people to hear about digital roles available – sometimes the roles don’t have the visibility they need and people just don’t hear about them. The Tech Talent Engine will help create the level of visibility needed.

“It will also be a place where we as a sector can help support employee engagement.”

NTCA Mayor Jamie Driscoll sent the launch event a video address in which acknowledged the size and importance of the region’s tech sector. He said the sector was worth £2bn and employed more than 35,000 in the north east.

“But we need more people in the sector and need to find these new employees – Dynamo has been working on this and the Tech Talent Engine is a solution. We’d like to see 10,000 new employees entering the sector over the next five years and the Tech Talent Engine can help with this.”

The Mayor went on to identify work experience as a barrier to helping some into the sector: “Sometimes it’s too much of a risk for employers to take on people without experience,” he said.

In response, the Mayor said NTCA would be launching a six-month, paid works experience programme called The Bench.

Other speakers at the launch included Prof Rene Koglbauer from Newcastle University and Cate Kalson, Chief People Officer at Opencast and a Dynamo Director.

The speeches were followed by a panel discussion about the benefits of the Tech Talent Engine, which was chaired by Jill McKinney and featured Sam Spoors, of Talentheads; Andy McFetrich, of tombola; Deni Chambers, from Gateshead College and Ronnie Peet, of Sage.

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.

Dynamo is part funded by the ERDF as part of the Catalysing Innovation 2021-23 in North East Clusters project, delivered by the Innovation SuperNetwork.

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