Manchester Digital is an organisation who have their finger on the pulse of technology.
For starters, being based in Manchester, one of the most vibrant and technologically fertile cities in Europe, they are already one up in the cool stakes. But that is coolness by association, we are after substance.
They do not disappoint in this remit one jot. Their premise is basically threefold – increase the business of digital companies with whom they have an affiliation, create a talent pipeline that these companies can take advantage of, and provide a voice for the digital scene in Manchester on a local and national level.
It is within the area of talent development that our interests align, and it is in this capacity we attended the digital careers festival, hosted by Manchester Digital, a couple of weeks back. The event took place in the grand old building of Manchester Town Hall. Fresh from its exploits with Glühwein, pork sandwiches and European artisan craftery, the venue befit such an event, and its old grandeur provided a perfect juxtaposition for the new-ness tech geekery that was occurring in it’s inner sanctum.
The companies on show varied from creative agencies, web development companies, software companies and various educational establishments, each one with stands designed to attract the talent that was present and milling around the expo. In speaking to a stand owner, we were told about the peanuts he had paid for his place at the expo, and the value he had obtained: – “We pay next to nothing for membership, and attendance at this conference is free of charge and part of that membership fee. The value is astounding, we pay £500 for the same privilege at graduate recruitment fairs”. Well you can’t say fairer than that.
And walking around, we would have to agree. The plethora of students walking around the conference accentuated the fact that, should a company require new talent, this was the place to get it. The sound of engaging conversations resonated around the hall, with potential employers gushing enthusiastically about there business, with attentive students connecting and networking like old pros. Conferences like this can sometimes be intimidating, with students feeling a little over whelmed and not inclined to get in conversations..
Not here. The students were giving as good as they got and I am sure the connections they made will be being leveraged as we speak in order to secure the foot up on the ladder they so rightfully deserve.
Another bright spot of the expo was the number of apprenticeship training facilitators. I feel strongly that digital talent can be nurtured in an on the job manner, and apprenticeships are a perfect avenue through which this can be achieved. Manchester Digital obviously have the same foresight, and this promotion and belief in young talent is the attitude we require to stimulate the kind of creativity in digital areas in the region, just as we have creativity in music and football and culture. We spoke at length with The Manchester College, who were helpful, enthusiastic and insightful.
Manchester Digital are in the trenches fighting for Manchester’s digital future. It is in this area that the greatest economic progress will be made. Lets get stuck in with them.