More than half of digital agencies in the North of England have had to turn down work due to a lack of skilled labour.

That’s according to a Digital Skills Audit, conducted by Manchester Digital.

Katie Gallagher

Katie Gallagher

Researchers spoke to 100 companies in the region, with 57% responding that they’d been forced to refuse business. 29% of these stated that the work was worth more than £50k, and 28% said the work was between £25k and £50k.

Developer roles were the most difficult to fill, although that appears to be improving as this year only 50% said they struggled to find qualified developers, compared to 61% the year before.

“The results of our digital skills audit highlight that we need some short term solutions to the skills shortage and a way of accelerating access to talent. It shows that there is still a need for industry and education to work much more closely together and for SMEs to have much more support in building and developing those relationships,” explained Katie Gallagher, managing director at Manchester Digital.

The results were revealed at the Digital Skills Summit, which is taking place in Manchester today.

“The discussions which took place at the conference, following the announcement of the audit results, covered the need for businesses to be far more assertive in their discussions with government to ensure that digital skills are included in the curriculum and that working with industry is not seen as a nice to do,” continued Gallagher.

“In addition, delegates and speakers agreed that there is still a lot of work to do to promote and encourage women to consider careers in digital and technology. This needs to begin at school age and businesses should make sure that their environments are comfortable for women. However there was a general feeling amongst the panel that integration is the way forwards rather than creating female only networking environments.”

Last week the Government outlined plans for a TechNorth Hub in Manchester, to promote digital start-ups and collaboration in the North of England.