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North of Tyne tech sector growth four times regional average

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The North of Tyne digital technology sector is growing four times faster than the region’s wider economy, according to research in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Assessing the UK’s Regional Digital Ecosystems.

The report noted: “Digital sector GVA has grown almost four times faster than the overall regional economy in recent years (at an average of 1.8% per annum in real terms from 2014 to 2019). Within this, the region’s ‘Computer programming and consultancy’ subsector has grown particularly rapidly, at a rate of 8.2% per annum over the period, matching the average UK growth rate for this sub-sector.”

Career Changers, namely people bringing skills and experiences from other industries into tech for the first time, are proving to be a key growth-driver, according to analysis of the data by Sunderland Software City.

Tech careers currently make up 14 per of all roles across the region, according to data from the job search engine Adzuna.

Often misinterpreted as a difficult sector to access or solely associated with deep-tech roles, such as coders, programmers and IT technicians, North of Tyne’s tech sector is booming with roles that extend beyond the traditional techy.

Opportunities in wider digital-creative roles like UX designers, graphic designers and social media managers are just some of the jobs boasting broader appeal.

Lani Irving, who recently transitioned into a tech role after working as a freelance illustrator, is just one example of the broad range of newcomers to the sector. Irving began a coding course in 2022 then joined Version 1 as an associate consultant in 2023.

She said: “Tech offers various opportunities that can be applied to other fields. Being a graphic designer, I learned to be creative which is a valuable skill in the tech industry. It’s about utilising your current abilities.”

Through proactive effort, North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) is encouraging individuals who may not have previously considered taking a role in tech to understand and access the sector via flagship support.

It has invested £10 million to support the growth of the digital sector across the region, pursuing an ambition of digital growth and innovation.

Over the next five years, the digital economy will create 1,300 new tech businesses, increase tech company revenues by £425m, and support 10,000 new tech employees entering the workforce, all underpinned by 99% of the region connected to gigabit fibre/5G infrastructure.

Support programmes such as Tech Talent Ready, a skills bootcamp that focuses on developing the tech talent pool within the region, help to support early careers. So far, the programme has gained key partnerships with tech leaders such as Accenture, Opencast and Mediaworks.

Helping career movers’ transition is just one small part of the puzzle and Tech Talent Engine, a free online jobs platform for people in the North East funded by NTCA, aims to streamline the job searching journey and further promote the collaboration between employers and candidates.

Jill McKinney, project manager of Tech Talent Engine and head of skills at Sunderland Software City said: “There is wide recognition that to support the sustainable growth of the digital sector in the North East, nationally and indeed globally, we need to focus on the development of the talent pipeline. “Tech is for everyone and not just the minority. We need to embrace this to further support the growth of our region.”

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