Digital skills gap: Leeds tech job vacancies rise to 600

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THE NUMBER of vacancies for digital jobs in Leeds has expanded by 50 per cent over the last year, new figures reveal, highlighting the growing skills gap in the important sector and raising concerns that the city could miss out on new investment.

Herd, a new website for IT jobs in the city, said vacancies have increased from 400 in December 2014 to more than 600 now.

The company said the requirements are mainly from large organisations expanding rapidly but there are also lots of small and medium sized businesses looking for digital talent.

Amy De-Balsi, founder of Herd, said: “The main challenge is retaining university talent and attracting skilled workers.”

Leeds City Council has formed a digital skills board of local employers to identify the right short, medium and long-term solutions to the problem.

It meets for the first time tomorrow and, according to Ms De-Balsi, recognises that the skills gap is the biggest challenge facing the sector.

Sky Bet, the private equity-backing online gambling firm, has 200 vacancies at the moment, half of which are for the technology and contact centre teams in Leeds.

The other half are at the company’s newly opened technology hub in Sheffield. Once filled, they will take Sky Bet’s head count to 900.

Richard Flint, chief executive, added: “Leeds has got a lot of that already but if we can work harder to further all those aspects, then I think digital businesses can be a massive engine of growth.”

He added that in addition to attracting and retaining talent, the city could help by retraining workers with analytical skills to help plug the gap.

The Leeds digital careers fair, which will take place at the First Direct Arena on February 10, will give people the chance to find out more about digital vacancies.