New partnership set to ‘open the doors’ to Leeds’ digital future

Matt Ward, xDesign's Head of Leeds

‘Leeds Unleashed’ seeks to inspire and inform the next generation of tech talent

Today, a partnership from the worlds of fashion, TV, technology and education have pledged to open their doors to give local young people and career changers unprecedented ‘behind the scenes’ access to the people and the technology that power their businesses.

Initiated by xDesign and Leeds City Council, the partnership also includes Sky, Burberry, and Glean. Each has made a commitment to inspire and engage the next generation of tech talent via the new initiative – Leeds Unleashed – which will take place on 5 May.

Leeds Unleashed was created to take action on recent research which looked at young peoples’ perceptions of the local tech industry. It found that 59% of young people in the city are considering a tech career. However, two-thirds think that tech companies could do much more to engage and nurture their digital aspirations.

As a result, the day of events will give individuals unprecedented access to some of Leeds’ biggest and best tech-enabled employers. As well as providing an opportunity to learn about the latest tech being used by each partner, it will also enable young people and career changers to engage face-to-face with the technologists and other specialists responsible for driving each business forward in their respective sectors.

Commenting on the launch of Leeds Unleashed, Matt Ward, xDesign’s Head of Leeds, said:

“The so-called ‘digital skills gap’ is something we’ve been aware of for a long time thanks to a growing body of research and regular media reporting. However, having done our own research, we wanted to start taking action on the findings. Leeds Unleashed reflects a shared commitment from xDesign and its partners to inspire, inform and ignite a passion among young people for careers in tech. With the support of Leeds City Council, we’re going to be offering this unique opportunity to school, college and university students – along with career changers – in the wider Leeds area. We want to support all of these groups in discovering how they could one day shape Leeds’ already thriving tech sector.

“In addition, this ‘open doors’ event is all about showing how technology is a ubiquitous part of all of our lives as customers and employees, no matter what the sector. As a result, we really want to highlight the variety of roles available to curious individuals – after all tech businesses need a whole range of specialist expertise not just those of software developers. By actually meeting the people behind the brands in welcoming and supportive environments, we believe that our target audiences will see the varied paths they can take when it comes to carving out a successful career in one of Leeds’ leading tech-enabled businesses.”

Jonathan Sheldrake, VP, IT – Infrastructure & Services at Burberry, said:

“Technology is a core pillar of Burberry’s international operations – particularly as global fashion markets get increasingly complex and competitive. Along with the initiative’s other partners, we know that Leeds has a vast wealth of untapped talent yet to be unleashed. As a result, we’re giving the city’s curious minds the opportunity to learn about our tech; engage face-to-face with our technologists and other specialists, and fully immerse themselves in the inclusive and diverse culture we’ve built here.

“For Burberry, Leeds Unleashed represents a real opportunity to invest in the future of the Leeds community we serve and operate from, while giving us the potential to futureproof our business. As a partnership, it’s vital that we empower the next wave of tech talent today, so that they can breathe new life and ideas into our businesses tomorrow.”

To book a place on the Leeds Unleashed tech tour, visit:

Previous articleWaterBear Sheffield Prepares for Opening with Launch Event
Next articleYorkshire non-profit exceeds annual targets in just three months