North East tech companies are actively looking to plug the local talent gap, suggesting an upward trajectory in the provision of digital opportunities in the region.

This was evidenced at our annual Tech Talent event, which took place online on the 24th of February. The event saw over thirty of the region's most exciting digital tech businesses offer over 200 career and training opportunities, to attract and retain North East talent.

Dubbed the North East's largest tech specific careers event, this year marked Tech Talent’s fifth anniversary.

The UK is a world-leader when it comes to digital technology, with the industry growing six times faster than any other sector in the UK in 2019. However many growing businesses are hindered by a low supply of technical talent to meet the booming rate of demand.

At Sunderland Software City (SSC), we are enabling the growth of the region’s technology sector. We first launched Tech Talent to help both employers source the best local talent as well supporting jobseekers, from junior to senior level, gain access to the wide-range of exceptional technology firms based in the region.

Jill McKinney, our Head of Skills of Training, said: “We are absolutely delighted to bring together businesses, colleges, universities, training providers and jobseekers as we continue to support the sector’s ever-changing needs.

This is our first foray into hosting Tech Talent completely remotely and digitally; we’re so thankful for the continued support and desire from our region’s employers and educators in backing this important event.

We usually host Tech Talent in May but since the start of the year we’ve seen how both digital and nondigital businesses alike have upped their need for roles but have had a difficult time in sourcing talent. We’re incredibly proud to help plug the gap.”

North East tech firms such as SoPost and Refract were just two of many exciting software organisations in attendance at Tech Talent 2021, recruiting for technical roles from software development and engineering roles to product and data lead opportunities.

Product sampling specialist SoPost was ranked by Deloitte as the region’s fastest-growing tech firm for the third year in a row, while Software as a Service (SaaS) leader Refract was recently acquired in a multimillion-pound deal by US company Allegro.

Some of the region’s largest technology players also showcased, with digital banking disruptor Atom Bank showcasing an array of roles including data engineers, solutions architects and lead developers. While Sunderland-based online gaming giant tombola offered roles from security analysts to testers and developers.

Jamie Hardesty, our Head of Communication and Stakeholder Engagement, said: “In a recent North East tech sector survey we found that two thirds of our region’s tech businesses have continued to recruit during the pandemic.

When you consider UK digital roles have grown by 36% since June 2020 alone, the tech sector has shown tremendous resilience during Covid. And with over 80 digital tech roles posted a day in the North East alone, it’s clear that we must do our utmost to ensure both businesses have access to local talent and that North East citizens are aware of the tech sector here in the region which is growing and is full of opportunity.

We recorded over 1000 digital interactions on the platform for the event; with the success of Tech Talent 2021 and our new digital jobs board on the Tech Talent Jobs website, it’s a real pleasure to simply help people find jobs and help tech companies on our doorstep to grow.”

The day also featured a series of lightning talks aimed to both educate and inspire delegates. Sessions ranged from Layers Studio demonstrating the value of working for a small business to digital innovation giant Avanade giving a deep dive into their technical projects as well as hosting a job readiness workshop.

Rachel Pattinson, CDT Manager, OpenLab, said: “This was my first visit to a Tech Talent event and it was great to meet some new people working on technology projects in the North East!

I enjoyed watching the presentations on the stage, I chatted to some of the exhibitors about internship opportunities for my students and I also got to grips with virtual event platform Hopin.”

Ethan Hill, Student, Gateshead College, said: “This was my first ever Tech Event and I enjoyed every moment of it.

All the staff and companies were brilliant and very helpful. I learned loads about the top technology companies in my region and their opportunities.”

Tech Talent 2021 was sponsored by Avanade, which is expanding its Newcastle Technology Centre, and supported by partners Blu Sky, Chartered Accountants and Muckle LLP.