Over half of young people in Leeds believe they lack skills or qualifications for tech career, says new research

74% of respondents from Leeds in new UK-wide research reported finding it hard to get into tech due to lack of experience or contacts

More than half (52%) of young people in Leeds are put off pursuing a career in tech because they believe they are not qualified or skilled enough, according to research released today by digital development partner xDesign.

Just under three-quarters (74%) of Leeds respondents also reported finding it hard to get into tech due to a lack of experience or contacts to support them. And in a nod to the ongoing lack of diversity in the industry, over half of respondents (55%) said they have been put off joining the sector as they don’t see anyone like them in it.

The survey of over 2000 young people aged between 16-30 from across England, Scotland and Northern Ireland was commissioned as part of ‘Leeds Unleashed’, an initiative led by xDesign and Leeds City Council in partnership with Sky, Burberry and Glean that’s taking place today (Friday 5 May).

Leeds Unleashed will see the partners open their doors to local school, college and university students as well as career changers, offering them unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to their people and technology, in a bid to bust the myths that surround the sector and tackle the ongoing digital skills gap.

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 technologists and other specialists to understand what’s involved in a tech career.

Other key findings from the research revealed:
• More than half (59%) of respondents from Leeds believed they would need to move away from their current location to pursue a tech career, due to a perception that there are limited local opportunities
• 4 in 10 Leeds respondents (40%) bemoaned a lack of information available to expand their knowledge of the sector
• 1 in 5 (20%) from the city would not consider tech as the sector ‘seems boring to work in’
• When asked what tech organisations could be doing to encourage more people into tech, the most popular response (chosen by 32% of Leeds respondents) was to ‘provide more support for schools, colleges and universities to create a pathway into the sector’

Matt Ward, Head of xDesign’s Leeds office said: “The results of this research underline the importance of organisations stepping up to support young people into the tech sector. With the help of our partners, we’re already taking action in Leeds today, but we plan to roll this initiative out to other parts of the UK to address what we can see from our stats is a national issue.

“We also, as a sector, need to urgently tackle the ongoing misconceptions surrounding working in tech if we are to have any hope at all of closing the digital skills gap.

“For instance, more than half of young people feel under-qualified or under-skilled for a career in tech – but formal qualifications aren’t a must-have. Equally, working in tech doesn’t just mean being a developer or engineer – there are a whole host of other roles available in the sector and it takes much more than just technologists to drive a tech-enabled company forward. There are many routes into a career in tech, and it’s our job as a sector to make this clearer to our young people, so we’re not missing out on half the potential talent pool.”

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer, Culture and Economy at Leeds City Council:: “For Leeds to remain a thriving tech destination, we need a solid pipeline of talent to ensure we stay at the top of our game. Today’s events taking place across the city are designed to demystify the sector and highlight the wide variety of roles available in tech, some of which many of our attendees might never have known about before. It is also hopefully the start of something bigger. Following today’s events, we hope young people will go home with all their preconceptions about working in tech – many highlighted in our research – completely smashed.”

Tom Davidson, Head of Technology – Group Digital Platforms – Group Product at Sky, Leeds: “Sky’s partnership with Leeds Unleashed is focused on unlocking opportunities for young people in the city. We want to help young people to gain the vital skills required to get started and succeed in the technology and media industry. I’m proud of our partnership with Leeds Unleashed and that Sky supports young people to fulfil their potential.”

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