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Roundup of The Digital Skills Summit: Powered by Wired Sussex

On Monday 23rd March we held The Digital Skills Summit at Komedia in Brighton – a practical and discussion-based event bringing digital businesses and skills providers together to discuss how they can work to address and overcome skills gaps within the sector.

Whether you were at the event or not, we’ve gathered plenty of resources to capture content and discussions from the day. Blogger Adam Englebright came along for the entire event, and has written a roundup which you can read below. We’ve also gathered links to the Twitter feed, Storify, photos, presentations and more.

Guest Blog Post Written by Adam Englebright

Monday saw The Digital Skills Summit at Brighton’s Komedia – a venue, as several of the speakers noted, more familiar as a setting for comedy than for conferences – a gathering exploring the relationship between the education and business sectors, identifying skill gaps and discussing learning of all kinds. Phil Jones began by framing the event and welcoming our Keynote Speaker to the stage, Creative Skillset’s Dr Kion Ahadi delivered the fact-filled presentation, outlining some of the causes for optimism for the digital sector, but also potential pitfalls. Sobering statistics included the rather parlous state of diversity in the sector, but causes for optimism were found in the form of strategies to deal with this, and the strength of the sector as a whole.

The lightning round talks were bite-sized presentations about various companies’ workplace cultures and strategies – from the Hack-Farms of Clearleft to the Mission Mountain of Propellernet. Mark Harrison from City and Guilds Kineo talked about their offering “conversion” roles for more mature people looking to transition to the e-learning sector who might be “client-ready”, and Propellernet’s Stefan Hull talked about the importance of giving employees time and space to learn – they have a roughly 70/10/20 split for client work, admin and learning.

Following that, a panel discussion on what education providers can do to meet the digital, media and tech industry's skills needs. There was lively discussion between the panel and the floor; areas touched on included the changing perception of degrees (both from student and institutional perspectives), the potential for student entrepreneurship, evidence-based policies and solutions rather than “buzzword bingo” and whether digital is a “sector or an enabler of other sectors”.

After that rather invigorating discussion was a series of workshops on topics ranging from the importance of hiring diverse teams to the attraction to and retention of talent in Brighton, the insights from which were rounded up at the end. The “importance of qualifications” table suggested that the involvement of industry at all levels of education – delivery and assessment, not just curriculum areas – might be beneficial. The “Brighton talent” table brought back the lack of developers, account managers, technical support, digital designers and marketing execs in Brighton (so if you’re any of those things and you fancy living by the seaside, you might want to consider a move!). Closing the day, Phil provided a succinct summary of the day and pulled out key discussion points for everyone to take away. Following that, everyone headed for the bar (with a lot to think about, no doubt).

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Adam Englebright is an analytics consultant by day, and a freelance writer, social media-er and pianist by night (and sometimes also by day, if you ask nicely).

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Thanks to our:

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Kion Ahadi - Creative Skillset "The Creative, Digital and Tech Industries: Key Statistics, Skills Needs and Solutions"

Strategy & Culture: Lightning Talks from Wired Sussex Member companies

Caroline Collyer & Martin Wilson - Bright-Interactive
Sophie Davies-Patrick - Clearleft
Mark Harrison - City & Guilds Kineo
Juliet Tzabar - Plug-In Media
Stefan Hull - Propellernet

Panel Discussion - "What do education & skills providers do to meet the digital, media and technology industry's skills needs?"

Panel Chair: Lars Hyland - Cogbooks
Andy Howard - University of Sussex
Chris Baker - University of Brighton
Joe Marshall - National Centre for Universities & Business
Sue Bradley - DV8 Sussex

Workshop Facilitators

Alison Mitchell-Innes - Brightwave "How do people really learn?"
Kelly Dibbert - Wired Sussex "Attracting and Retaining Talent within Brighton/Sussex"
Jennifer Wells - University of Brighton "Do qualifications matter?"
Libby Freshwater - Leapfrogg "Structuring company culture to enhance performance"
Holly Youdan - Brandwatch "The importance of and how to hire a diverse workforce"
Paul Levy - Author of Digital Inferno "Placing yourself skillfully in the Digital Realm"

Catch up with the action:

Watch the videos

See the photos

Read the Twitter feed for the official hashtag here: #WiredSkills

Read the Storify

Read the Keynote Speaker and Lightning Talk presentations on our Slideshare

Workshop roundup blogs:
How do we really learn? - Alison Mitchell-Innes
Attracting and Retaining Talent within Brighton/Sussex - Kelly Dibbert
Structuring company culture to enhance performance - Libby Freshwater
Do qualifications matter? - Jennifer Wells
Placing yourself skillfully in the Digital Realm - Paul Levy

The Digital Skills Summit: Powered by Wired Sussex was supported by The Regional Growth Fund and Sussex Learning Network.


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