DYNAMO, the region’s tech champion, has completed the recruitment of a team to deliver a new Digital Talent Engine for the north east.

The project, confirmed late last year, is part of the North of Tyne Combined Authority’s £10m Digital Growth and Innovation Programme designed to grow the region’s tech sector. The programme aims to create jobs hundreds of jobs and includes £5m to support start-ups, working with partners including Dynamo and Innovation SuperNetwork.

Experienced project leader Helen Tong was appointed to head up the Digital Talent Engine team in December and now others have been recruited to complete the team.

Dr Elena Gorman is the new Digital Talent Manager; Fareeha Usman has been appointed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Manager while BeaconHouse Events will manage the team’s admin and logistics.

Dynamo Director Cate Kalson will continue having oversight of the Digital Talent Engine alongside a panel of business and education leaders who will help steer activity and monitor performance.

Helen said: “I’m delighted we have such a great team in place and we’ve already hit the ground running. Our new recruits are talented, experienced and well networked across the region’s tech sector.

“The Digital Talent Engine is about campaigning to inspire and encourage people to enter the digital and tech sector from a range of starting positions. We need to educate people from outside the industry in the wide variety of roles available.

“The NTCA funding of £380,000 over the next three years is being match funded by sponsorship and support from partners and stakeholders, and this has allowed us to put together this talented team.”

Elena is originally from Somerset and moved to the north east to attend Durham University. There she completed a degree, Master’s then a PhD in theology. She worked in several roles at the university before joining Creative Fuse North East in 2017 as a Project Development Manager at Northumbria University. She went on to work in tech roles at both Newcastle University and Durham University.

She said: “I’m really excited to be part of the Digital Talent Engine team and I think we can make a real difference in closing the gap between tech companies and education providers in the region. There is a huge opportunity here and I’m looking forward to working with employers, universities, colleges and students to help them understand what we are doing and how we can help them.

“I’ll be working with tech companies to understand where their skills shortages are, and then with the education providers to ensure their curriculums are aligned with the skills needed.

“It’s about understanding the region’s tech environment and filling the gaps so there is a constant pipeline of talent and a lack of recruits with the right qualifications isn’t holding the sector back.”

Fareeha has been working with Dynamo as its EDI Manager and ran a recent sector campaign to find more diverse role models. She is the founder of Being Woman, a registered charity working to educate and empower women to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

Fareeha said: “I am very excited to be part of this journey which can significantly contribute to a transformative shift in the mindset of people looking for work in the north east tech sector.

“My role entails ensuring the EDI agenda is recognised as positive, proactive, and influential in contributing to the project’s strategic and operational planning and implementation process. This involves supporting the development and implementation of EDI policies, procedures, guidelines, practices, and behaviours to improve outcomes for the workforce, stakeholders and communities.

“Our overall aim is to create an inclusive working environment where diversity is valued, everyone can contribute, and everyday actions ensure we meet our duty to uphold and promote equality.”

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.

Award-winning digital marketing agency Mediaworks is building the platform and creating the digital assets needed to help spread the word.

Brett Jacobson, CEO at Mediaworks, said: “We’re proud to be selected as a partner to support the delivery of the Digital Talent Engine project. It’s fundamental that we’re able to identify, retain and develop digital talent within the region. We’re extremely passionate about creating a future that will put our region at the forefront of digital innovation, empowering and developing all businesses to strengthen their digital capabilities.”

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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