The inaugural Leeds Digital Job Fair has won a seal of approval from local business leaders after more than 1,300 candidates filed through the doors of the First Direct Arena to talk to employers about the hundreds of tech vacancies on offer across the city.
Google, William Hill, Callcredit, Sky Betting & Gaming, Provident Financial, Sky and Lhasa Limited were just some of the 33 firms with exhibition stands at the event, all with real jobs – from entry level through experienced industry professional – ready to be filled.
The event was organised by Herd, the Leeds-based technology job board, after its research revealed that the number of unfilled tech jobs in Leeds had risen from an estimated 400 in December 2014 to more than 600 in less than 12 months.
Speaking afterwards, Herd founder Amy De-Balsi described the Leeds Digital Job Fair as, “a resounding success.” And she revealed that a follow-up was already in the pipeline.
Ms De-Balsi said: “We did it and we did it well. Almost all of the companies who came to exhibit and offer jobs said they would return, and planning for another tech job fair is now underway. Herd has also been contacted by firms that weren’t there but want to be involved in a future event.
“I was particularly taken aback by the number of candidates who travelled from outside Leeds to gain access to the numerous positions we had available.
“The city’s digital and technology sector is growing remarkably quickly and we can’t fill the vacancies at the pace they’re currently being created. This is an opportunity that cannot be lost.
“It is essential that we keep the digital talent we have, rather than lose it to London as has been the case in the past. We must encourage skilled tech people to build their careers here.
“The first Leeds Digital Job Fair set the bar high but its success demonstrates beyond question that we’re on the right path.”
The event – which was co-sponsored by Leeds City Council, Leeds Beckett University, Tech North and Leeds BID – was roundly applauded by company bosses in attendance.
Andy Williams, managing principal of Answer Digital, said: “The digital transformation movement in Leeds is really catching fire. Leeds City Council and Herd are to be commended for setting up, in the space of six months, a Leeds Digital Board with broad representation from many different stakeholders, identifying the skills gap and organising the first digital recruitment fair to begin addressing that gap.
“What a fantastic opportunity to showcase Answer Digital’s message, create further links with academia, network with other exhibitors and crucially check out the talent that Leeds has to offer.
“It was great to see that so many business, both SMEs and large companies, felt able to support the day, pulling together with the academic institutions and the Council to show the art of the possible and the true potential of the Leeds digital market.”
Emma Cheshire, CEO of Dotforge, said: “The first tech-focused careers fair in Leeds highlighted just how much opportunity there is in the area for coders, project managers and marketers to build an amazing career working for digital companies with national and international clients in sectors as diverse as health, fintech, gaming and betting.
“The event was a great opportunity to see many of these companies in one place, to reconnect with great teams and to hear how quickly and successfully all the companies are growing.”
Alex Bradley, director of Axiom Futures, said: “The buzz was brilliant and exactly what the city needs. There were some excellent conversations happening, not just about attracting current talent, but about how we grown our own and put Leeds ahead of the competition.”