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Talent Fest 2019: Key Takeaways and Highlights From This Year’s Digital Skills Festival

Over three days in June, we ran Talent Fest 2019, the largest skills festival for the digital sector in the South East, developed to help digital, media and tech businesses in the region attract, train and retain the talent they need to thrive and deliver great work. Running from the 18th - 20th June, the festival consisted of a Jobs Fair, Portfolio Clinic and a Skills Summit.

As another year’s Talent Festival draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of my key takeaways and highlights.

We’ve got talent!

What was abundantly clear from the great turn out at our Jobs Fair and Portfolio Clinic is that there is a huge amount of eager and engaged talent who want to work in our sector. Talking to an exhibitor at the Jobs Fair, I was told that they had met more quality job seekers in an hour at our Jobs Fair than they meet during a whole day at other fairs.

Diversity and Inclusion

There are already lots of organisations, groups and individuals who are doing fantastic work to address diversity, and it has been a highlight over the past few months to engage with some of these. I’m aware that I have probably only just touched the surface so if you are doing work around diversity and inclusion and would like to have a chat about how we can work together, please drop me an email.

Sharing stories and experiences

The Skills Summit focused on our community’s aspirations for a diverse and inclusive cluster, and also the reality of delivering this within our businesses. Anne Morrison, former Chair of BAFTA, kicked the day off with an inspiring and provocative talk about the importance of diversity and breaking away from the cosy and familiar to instil real change; followed by member’s case studies, practical advice and workshops.

A big thank you to all of the speakers and all the attendees who shared their personal experiences. It felt really rewarding to see the challenges being shared, solutions being suggested, and ideas being formed. Also, a big thanks to all the companies and individuals who gave their time and expertise at our Jobs Fair and Portfolio Clinic to inspire and inform job seekers. It was a real pleasure to see attendees’ confidence growing throughout the events and to hear how empowering they had found the days.

Videos of the Jobs Fair containing inspiration and guidance for job seekers can be viewed here

Skills Summit talks with insights and expertise for business leaders can be viewed here.


Your generosity

Talent Fest would not have been possible if it weren’t for the generous support of our community. A very special thanks goes out to our headline sponsor American Express, our sponsors Madgex and our supporters DabApps, Project Management On Demand, Cogapp, Natives, Saba, Mediatonic, Brightwave Group, Make Real, Pragmatic, Artemis Marketing, Plus Accounting, Animalive and Aimer Media. A huge thanks to these companies for their support, advice and contributions to the festival. It was a pleasure to work with you all.


Together we can make a difference

We know that there is a limit to what Wired Sussex can achieve as a single organisation, but we also know that our strength lies in our collaboration. With that in mind, I am delighted to announce that we have launched our Skills and Talent Manifesto. The Manifesto originated from last year's Skills Summit and addresses our community’s aspiration to make Greater Brighton the best place in the UK for anyone to have a fulfilling career in the digital sector. It is a collective commitment to working together to reach our common goals.

By signing up to the Manifesto, you provide weight and momentum to our commitment, as well as making an outward facing promise to your employees and stakeholders around your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

If you haven't done so already, you can sign up to the Manifesto here.

Taking the next steps

Off the back of the Skills Summit, a Diversity Working Group has been set up to collectively share and improve our practice around inclusion, diversity and accessibility. The first meeting is taking place on 24th July and you can get your free ticket here.

I have already received lots of exciting emails about new initiatives and innovative approaches to diversity and inclusion that we will be exploring over the coming weeks. We also have a host of activities which we are developing ourselves and which we will be sharing details of shortly.

I am really looking forward to continuing working with you to learn together, share best practice and make a real difference. If you have any ideas or suggestions you would like to share or discuss with me, it would be great to hear from you.

You can view all the photos from Talent Fest 2019 on our Facebook page. If you're interested in taking part in next year's Talent Festival, please get in touch.

About the author

Rebecca Groves

Hi, I'm Wired Sussex's Skills and Talent Strategy Lead. I oversee our skills and talent strategy for the regional digital sector. This includes the delivery of activity which addresses this strategy, such as our annual Talent festival, and working with members to help them benefit from our initiatives.

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