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Phil and Claire's Introduction


And we’re off. Doors are open. Coffee is flowing, thank the gods – and my live blog corner has become a bag drop for speakers and people working the event, which makes it feel oddly homely.

Today’s Skills Summit conference delegates are an exclusive group; just over one hundred local CEOs and business owners drawn from the Sussex tech, creative and education communities, all members of Wired Sussex. Everyone throngs into the hall. Fade out the Fatboy Slim.

The welcome is Wired Sussex’ own Phil Jones @philjoneswired, alongside Claire Hopkins, founding Director at Ideal. @idealhopkins @weareideal


This is the second of the three days. Yesterday we held a successful Jobs Fair at Brighton Dome and tomorrow here we have a Portfolio Clinic here, where we have fifteen design businesses sharing their expertise with young people wanting to get into design.

Today we’re sharing best practice. As a city we have one goal: to make this city the best place in the UK to attract and nurture talent. It’s an ambitious but achievable goal. It’s a great city. We have fantastic businesses with very good practices in terms of attracting, retaining, developing talent.

So today is about learning and sharing in order to deliver some activities towards that goal. We all benefit from that: we all benefit from how the city is seen.

When we at Wired Sussex talk to businesses about talent, three things come up:

The relationship with learning institutions.

Diversity: making sure that we attract the best talent regardless, of gender, race, class, age – and the creation of inclusive cultures within our businesses.

Research shows the cost of living in Brighton is single biggest challenge for businesses.

First Southern Rail joke of the day. Even getting here is a nightmare!

This afternoon workshop will be a World Café style workshop run by Helen Kennedy and will dig into these three issues in more detail.

Thank you to all our sponsors, especially our headline sponsor Legal & General. Without the support of our sponsors this festival, it simply wouldn’t have been possible.

Claire Hopkins:

I’m now GB Met College and a trustee at The Girls Network.

Ideal is nine years old, we employ 60 people and have a customer base of around 100 organisations. We are what we used to call an IT company.

Our relationships with our customers drive our success.

Finding those people is our biggest challenge and that hasn’t changed over the years – that challenge just becomes bigger.

A major challenge for us is that local universities don’t run specialist technical courses in the areas that we need, so we have to hire from further afield. We don’t find it hard to hire talented people but we do find it hard to keep them. Cost of living is a big obstacle and the market for technical staff is very buoyant so often within a year, they’re moving on.

So what do we do?

We’re working with Further My Future – who you’ll hear from in a little while – to learn to nurture talent. We’re trying work placements and STEM workshops with as young as primary school children, to try to engage them and teenagers in conversations about careers in IT and tech.

So we need to be about how to make that much more exciting, much earlier.

Brighton’s digital economy is unique in the extent to which it’s made up of smaller and micro-businesses.

It’s challenging to collaborate and become a force because we’re all caught up dealing with our own problems. So that’s what today is about – giving us the time and a space to discuss these issues.

Finally, after this afternoon’s workshop we’ve got Prosecco and nibbles. So stay if you can, though if you can’t, Wired Sussex will be sharing outcomes.

Claire introduces Eugenie…

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