North East digital tech sector growing four times faster than regional economy

North of Tyne’s digital technology sector is growing four times faster than the region’s wider economy, as more people flock towards jobs in tech.

‘Career Changers’, namely people bringing skills and experiences accumulated from other industries in to tech for the first time, are proving to be a key growth-driver. Tech careers now make up 14% of all roles across the region, according to data from the job search engine Adzuna, a trend showing no signs of slowing down.

Often misinterpreted as a difficult sector to access or solely associated with deep-tech roles, such as coders, programmers and IT technicians, North of Tyne’s tech sector is booming with roles that extend beyond the traditional techy. Opportunities in wider digital-creative roles like UX designers, graphic designers and social media managers are just some of the jobs boasting broader appeal.

Lani Irving recently transitioned into a tech role after working as a Freelance Illustrator. In pursuit of a new challenge, Lani began a coding course in 2022 and then joined Version 1 as an associate consultant in 2023.

Lani added: “I had a desire to join a team that is constantly evolving and face challenges that would stretch my abilities. In the tech industry, boredom is out of the question as it moves at a rapid pace.

“Tech offers various opportunities that can be applied to other fields. Being a graphic designer, I learned to be creative which is a valuable skill in the tech industry. It’s about utilising your current abilities.”

Through proactive effort, North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is encouraging individuals who may not have previously considered taking a role in tech to understand and access the sector via flagship support.

Thus, they have invested £10 million to support the growth of the digital sector across the North of Tyne, pursuing an ambition of digital growth and innovation.

Over the next five years, the digital economy will create 1,300 new tech businesses, increase tech company revenues by £425m, and support 10,000 new tech employees entering the workforce, all underpinned by 99% of the region connected to gigabit fibre/5G infrastructure.

Support programmes such as Tech Talent Ready, a skills bootcamp that focuses on developing the tech talent pool within the region, help to support early careers. So far, the programme has already gained key partnerships with tech leaders such as Accenture, Opencast and Mediaworks.

Sarah, Head of Operations at Land Digital, has been working with Tech Talent Ready to deliver a two-week experience. Sarah added: “We wanted to run this work experience because we know there are so many talented entrepreneurs in the North East, but with no idea how to get into the tech industry without previous experience.

“We are blown away every time by the passion, creativity, and enthusiasm every student brings to the programme. At the end of the 2 weeks, they present their ideas to our judging panel showcasing fundamental skills. We’ve had people change their career paths by learning brand new skills, being introduced to new career opportunities, and even building further on a business idea.”

Helping career movers’ transition is just one small part of the puzzle and Tech Talent Engine, a free online jobs platform for people in the North East funded by NTCA, aims to streamline the job searching journey and further promote the collaboration between employers and candidates.

Jill McKinney, Project Manager of Tech Talent Engine and Head of Skills at Sunderland Software City said: “There is wide recognition that to support the sustainable growth of the digital sector in the North East, nationally and indeed globally, we need to focus on the development of the talent pipeline.

“Tech is for everyone and not just the minority. We need to embrace this to further support the growth of our region.”

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