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Business & Economy

Majority of North East employers struggle to fill digital vacancies, reveals new skills audit

More digital and tech jobs have been created in the North East during the pandemic, yet most employers struggle to fill technical vacancies. These findings were revealed by the North East Digital Skills Audit 2021.

Delivered by Sunderland Software City as part of the national skills audit, the North East report surveyed 240 individuals and businesses to understand the impact the pandemic has had on the region’s digital skills landscape.

The audit revealed that 51% of North East employers have posted at least one vacancy during the pandemic but 57% of those recruiting had been unable to fill a new job posting.

The majority of unfilled job postings related to technical developer roles, showing the real skills gap in the region. While the North East shines in nurturing cross-sectoral talent, with many transitioning into the tech/digital sector from non-digital jobs such as sales, technical talent is still falling behind.

In addition, the audit revealed that only few individuals (17.3%) enter the tech industry through a tech-related degree with 82% of students having no industry experience.

Jill McKinney, Head of Skills at Sunderland Software City, said: “What we’re seeing is that businesses are needing more tech talent to digitise and scale. Yet despite the increase in demand for talent, there just isn’t enough supply.

Most North East businesses are looking within the region directly for talent and are actively looking for graduates, but the inability to fill vacancies means that they are going to have to look further than this.

Whilst this means we have an opportunity to draw more talent into the North East region, which would be great for economic growth, it also shows that we need to be doing more to upskill those already looking for jobs in the region’s digital and tech market, and help those still at university or college to get more industry experience.

It is interesting to note though that the majority of North East organisations are micro and small businesses. This means that talented technical individuals looking for roles, might be more likely to look for jobs among larger brands. It’s been said many times, but continuing to raise awareness of the organisations recruiting within our region remains crucial.”

The North East Digital Skills Audit is part of the national Digital Skills Audit campaign ran by the Institute of Coding and the UK Tech Cluster Group. The campaign aims to raise awareness of changing demands in digital skills across UK regions. The first release, brought by Manchester Digital, focused on the North West and was published last month.

The North East Digital Skills Audit was conducted over a period of 11 months in 2020. Other key findings highlighted a severe lack of diversity within the tech workforce, and a real level of resilience among North East organisations to address the pandemic with 23% changing products and services in response to new and changing customer demands.

To read the North East skills audit, please visit: